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Automotive industry amidst COVID-19: Consumer friendly or not?

COVID-19 has affected all of us. From IT to Banking, Education to Hospitality, everyone’s bearing the brunt of it. Crisis calls for creativity and adaptive approach. Automotive companies around the world are helping you survive the lockdown in ways that go unnoticed. Read on to know more on Automotive Industry and COVID-19.

The current global state of emergency has not only raised awareness but forced the government to take quick measures and put multiple plans in action. Mainly, looking at India, it’s been almost five months since the first COVID-19 case was reported back in late January. The country was under lockdown for over three months and since then, the number of COVID-19 cases has significantly risen, but the recoveries have also been tremendous. With a highly dense population, containing the virus has been a great challenge in India. Imposing strict lockdowns pan-India was undoubtedly a commendable effort to contain the virus. However, the economic and psychological brunt of it has also been showing up in recent trends all across the country. Does the automotive industry care for you during COVID-19? Read on to know more!

Despite the conditions of the market, automotive companies like Mahindra, Hyundai, and Volkswagen have taken commendable steps to uplift the country’s economy. One of the most critical concerns of a vehicle owner is the cost of service, the amount of time it takes, and the other hassles involved. Taking this into consideration, Mahindra has launched the “With you Hamesha” or the WYH app that looks into customer-centric service. They have also offered service and warranty extensions in case of missed deadlines.

The automotive industry in India is estimated to incur a loss of $1.5-2 billion per month due to the sudden market closure. One of the other reasons could be the transition to the much anticipated BS-VI models, leading to higher ownership costs. The value chain for a traditional automobile company or OEM consists of multiple verticals, and consecutive lockdown has affected operations in almost all of them. 

Following similar lines, Audi India has also extended the service and warranty of existing and new cars. In response to the crisis, they will be providing complimentary disinfection of cars for frontline health care workers. The move is similar to what BMW also proposed a few days back. 

Considering the massive amount of liquidity that would not reach this industry, due to the adverse market, these companies have taken responsible steps to support the country’s social structure.

Generous donations have also been flooding in from these automotive companies as a response to COVID-19. Tata Sons recently announced a package worth 1000 Cr rupees to fight back the pandemic. The Bajaj group, on the other hand, pledged to donate 100 Cr rupees to the cause.

While Indian companies are coming out as responsible organizations, things offshore have also been positive. Mitsubishi Motors North America is offering Customer relief programs through its financing arm, Ally Financial. On the other hand, Ford motors have been working on the design and manufacturing of Powered air-purifying respirators (PAPR). They have already started shipping and delivering PAPR, and they plan to make it accessible to all of America very soon.

“Ford could not stand by while health care workers in this country placed their lives on the line to help others without even having proper protection,”  –Jim Baumbick, Vice President, Ford Enterprise Product Line Management

Another interesting story comes from the world-famous Daimler group. Mercedes’s parent company, Daimler, has put all of their 3d printing resources and talent into making face shields. Their highly competitive and renowned formula one team, the Mercedes-AMG Petronas, is usually found racing at speeds above 340kmph. However, the pandemic has allowed them to make low-cost breathing kits.

Individuals have to keep their distance from each other, but at the same time societies are coming together,” –Ola Källenius, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG

Back in India, due to population and the sudden increase in the demand for face masks, many companies have also started manufacturing masks and shields for healthcare as well as consumers. These companies are trying to leverage their well-established supply chain, along with their manufacturing capabilities. Companies like Kia motors have pledged to provide 1 million face masks in China. On a much more local level, Hyundai India has ordered testing kits from their home country, Korea. Skoda and Volkswagen have also promised face masks. 

Mahindra and Mahindra has also stepped into providing health care centers at their flagship, Mahindra Resort guesthouse, and hotels. Their logistics business has also started an emergency cab service for doctors, nurses, single mothers, and disabled citizens. They currently operate in 7 cities. 

“As we continue to battle this unprecedented crisis, we are pleased to announce that all Audi India dealerships across the country will prioritize vehicle servicing for essential workers.”   Balbir Singh Dhillon, Head, AUDI INDIA

On a corporate level, most of these companies have been operating remotely. Employee health care and sanitation have been top priorities since the lockdown was lifted on 8th June.

Since they are the technical maestro, US-based Tesla has already developed an FDA approved ventilator which would be distributed at zero costs.The crisis has reminded them of the importance of setting up a flexible and agile working environment, and the much more important lesson of empathy.

The critical point to note here remains that despite the economic loss, the companies have to suffer, a sense of empathy and social responsibility is prevailing. It tells us a lot about a company’s stand on being inclusive. Even the most sought after and well-funded industry, automotive giants have done exceptionally well in understanding their role as a corporate robin hood. Finally, does the automotive industry care for you during COVID-19? What do you think?

Shahzer Rahman
Shahzer Rahman (Contributor)
Shahzer is an explorer at heart. His mantra for leading a good life is “being out there, hunting for opportunities.” He is a mechanical engineer by profession and his interest lies in poetry and film editing.
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