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Honda cars are displayed at a plant.

Automakers like Maruti Suzuki, Honda, Toyota and Tata Motors expect demand for personal vehicles to go up in the country as social distancing and fear associated with COVID-19 veer people away from public transport. The country’s largest carmaker Maruti Suzuki India (MSI) expects demand to shift towards lower priced cars in the post-lockdown scenario.

“People will prefer personal vehicles over public transport and it comes out from different consumer surveys which we have conducted,” MSI Executive Director, Marketing and Sales, Shashank Srivastava told PTI.

With economic activity slowing down, impacting buying power of consumers, demand will shift towards lower priced or smaller vehicles in personal mobility space, he added.

“So the shift is expected towards smaller cars and first-time buyers.We are already witnessing this trend in around 1,800 dealerships which we have been able to re-open in the past few days,” Srivastava said.

Previous trends have also shown that consumers gravitate towards established brands during stress periods, he noted.

Echoing similar views, Honda Cars India Ltd (HCIL) Senior Vice President and Director, Marketing and Sales, Rajesh Goel said that considering people will be extra careful against COVID-19, personal mobility will gain much more significance than shared mobility or public transport, and hence can contribute to sales.

“Apart from new car sales in different segments, we feel that customers would also consider certified used car sales as they can afford a well maintained nice looking car with much more affordability,” he added.

Goel, however, felt that more time is required to assess the market situation effectively.

A Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM) spokesperson said fear of disease, social distancing and need to maintain hygiene will shape consumer behaviour post-lockdown and may drive some segments of consumers towards personal mobility and move them away from public transport.

“This shift is likely to be both for the day to day intracity as well as intercity travel, hence depending on many factors like mobility requirement, ability to spend, it is anticipated that increase in demand may be seen in some segments and not just be restricted to entry level segment,” the spokesperson said.

However, it must be kept in mind that on overall basis the consumer sentiment currently is quite subdued and may remain so unless some demand creation measures are introduced by the government as well as the industry, the spokesperson added.

Similarly, a Tata Motors spokesperson said that the coronavirus pandemic has brought about a significant change in the perspective regarding transportation usage.

“Due to the impact of COVID-19 and the implication of strict physical distancing norms, we anticipate that there will be a considerable decrease in the use of public transport and shared mobility,” the spokesperson said.

The demand for personal mobility will increase due to customers’ need to ensure personal safety, the spokesperson added.

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