There’ll be an increase in adoption of electric, hybrid, safer vehicles: Ashish Gupta
World over, we saw the great disruption caused by the global pandemic, even as businesses and economies are still struggling to return to the pre-pandemic levels. Along with this there are geopolitical situations and tensions that have impacted the supply chain, creating raw material challenges. Amidst all this, Volkswagen has successfully launched two new vehicles – the Taigun in the premium midsize SUV segment and the Virtus in the premium midsize sedan segment in India.
Speaking to Adgully, Ashish Gupta, Brand Director, Volkswagen Passenger Cars India, said, “With two brand new launches, we navigated through the challenges, learning and unlearning the consumer trends, preferences, new technologies and consumption pattern and use the insights of ‘strengthening customer connection’ while developing our marketing strategy and campaign for the year.”
He further said, “We strongly believe this key insight is the direction for the future strategy and campaign while being flexible towards platform usage, medium, tools and countering the challenges effectively. These efforts will help us stay ahead of the curve and continue to strengthen the presence of the Volkswagen brand in India.”
Prior to COVID, Volkswagen’s audience would engage with the brand through physical touchpoints and experiences, with a shift towards digital in the next couple of years. However, COVID-19 accelerated digitalisation and today consumers interact in a 360-degree manner with a phygital approach.
“Today, prospective and existing Volkswagen customers can interact with our brand through our network touchpoints in 118 cities across India or through our digital platforms. Be it social media or the digital tools on the Volkswagen India website enabling the customer in their purchase journey. For instance, we have introduced the WhatsApp for Business platform, booking of a Volkswagen model or service appointment online, scheduling of test drive at the customers preferred dealership at their convenient time, Service Cost Calculator that enables a customer to understand the approximate cost of his annual maintenance, ensuring transparency and a peace of mind ownership experience,” he added.
Gupta informed that as a matter of fact, even the pre-owned car business has witnessed an increase in digitalisation platforms, wherein customers are buying, selling, exchanging and upgrading their car online. Our DasWelt.Auto platform (Volkswagen India’s pre-owned car business) has seen an upsurge in engagement on the website and DWA Valuator app.
“Today, we have scaled our consumer connect multi-fold with the advent of technology that has helped us in further understanding our consumers requirements and increase brand trust and loyalty,” he said.
The industry witnessed several changes, the first and foremost one being the need for individual or personal mobility. During the COVID-19 period, the pre-owned automotive business almost doubled as individuals wanted their own safe and personal mobility solutions. Earlier a family of four people would have one car, whereas today, there are at least two cars to facilitate their mobility needs. Therefore, the automotive business after witnessing a dampened 2020, rebounded with a growth of nearly 26% in 2021.
Furthermore, the industry has also witnessed a shift in the category – consumer demand has moved towards a preference for SUVs and mid-size sedans vis-à-vis entry level hatchbacks.
Gupta noted, “Our young product portfolio of the Volkswagen Taigun, Virtus and Tiguan is doing phenomenally well in their respective categories, showcasing the shift towards safe and premium mobility solutions by customers.”
The industry is gathering a lot of positive momentum, with India surpassing Japan in new auto sales in 2022, making it the third-largest market for the first time. The automotive market in India has seen a lot of fluctuation in the recent past, ranging from the NBFC crisis in 2019, followed by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the microchip shortage and Russia-Ukraine situation leading to supply chain constraints. Despite these impediments, the industry is surging ahead with robust outputs. The automotive industry in India grew by 23% to 3.6 million vehicles in 2022.
On the trends that will be shaping the automobile industry in 2023, Gupta said, “The few trends that will predominantly shaping the future course for the industry are – increasing adoption of electric and hybrid vehicles; demand for safer cars that ensure driver and occupant safety such as the Volkswagen Taigun (5-star GNCAP in adult and child occupant); software driven and inclusion of enhanced digitised features that would make the journey even more integrated and comfortable for the customer.”
“Overall, it is likely that the automotive industry will continue to evolve and transform in terms of fuel types, technology agnostic disruptions and design advancement and safety, which will shape the future course of action,” concluded Gupta.