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Hyundai India exports 5000 vehicles in May 2020

Hyundai India has announced that it has exported around 5000 vehicles in the month of May, after resuming production in its Chennai facility on May 8th. Hyundai is the nation’s leading exporter, and has achieved the feat of becoming the first company to cross 3 Million exports to 88 global markets.  The company has reportedly exported around 1.7 Lakh units in 2019 alone, which includes 792 variants of cars customized for various markets as per the requirements.

Hyundai thus underlines its key commitment – “Make in India – Make for the World”. “This is a testimony of Hyundai’s resilient efforts towards localization and to accentuate economic recovery. Drawing strength from Hyundai’s vision of ‘Progress for Humanity’ we will continue to offer all-round premium experience to our customers through our quality products, both in India and global markets” – quoted Mr. S S Kim, MD & CEO, Hyundai Motors India Ltd.

The company currently exports around 10 models from its Indian plant to various markets across the globe, that includes – Atos (Santro), Grand i10, Xcent, Grand i10 (Nios) & Grand i10 (Aura), Elite i20, i20 Active, Accent (Verna), Venue and all new Creta.

(The article is written by Karthick. He is an auto enthusiast, and an engineer by profession, currently employed in an auto MNC at Chennai; has a craving on new tech and a particular interest on the Indian automotive market.)

Interesting Facts Series – BMW

As automobile enthusiasts; we yearn to learn more about the brands we love. Hence; we are happy to present the Interesting Facts series where we will cover lot of unknown facts about the famous automobile brands.

The First Brand to be included in the series is BMW. Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, commonly referred to as BMW, is a German MNC which produces luxury cars and motorcycles. The company was founded in 1916 as a manufacturer of aircraft engines, which it produced from 1917 until 1918 and again from 1933 to 1945.

Interesting Facts about BMW – 

1. During WWI, BMW built the airplane engine. The Early airplane engines rewrote the record book, BMW-powered biplane hit 32,000ft in 1919.

2. BMW’s headquarters is a giant homage to its four-cylinder heritage. 

3. The Early airplane engines rewrote the record book, BMW-powered biplane hit 32,000ft in 1919.

4. Everyone thinks the iconic logo represents a spinning propeller, the logo existed before it ever graced a propeller.

5. You can thank the Treaty of Versailles for getting BMW into cars

6. BMW didn’t even design its first car, rather it was a rebadged Austin 7 – 

7. In 1937, the world record for fastest motorcycle went to a BMW!

8. In the late ’50s, BMW almost became part of the same corporate family as Mercedes!

9. BMW’s storied M1 supercar was supposed to be built by Lamborghini. 

10. BMW made its first electric car in 1972

Gone but not Forgotten Series – HM Contessa

Do read our earlier articles in the ‘Gone but not Forgotten’ series – Toyota Qualis, Ford Fusion, Tata Nano, Skoda Octavia Mk1, Chevrolet Tavera and Fiat Punto.

In late 1970s, Hindustan Motors wanted to enhance its lineup after selling Ambassador for almost three decades. They saw an opportunity when Vauxhall was phasing out the VX series and Contessa was born. Contessa was primarily based on the Vauxhall VX Series – rather based on the Vauxhall Victor, which was the last model in the VX Series. The Victor briefly was Britain’s most exported car during its time! It was exported to markets as far flung as the United States (sold by Pontiac dealers), Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Asian right-hand drive markets such as now Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore.

Hindustan Motors acquired the production tooling and technology from Vauxhall and the production line was set up alongside the Ambassador at Uttarpara near Kolkata and the first test cars were ready by 1982. Series production was under way by the spring of 1984. To keep the costs under check, HM Contessa was introduced to the Indian market with the 50 hp (37 kW), 1.5 L BMC B-Series engine which also powered the Ambassador, in a slightly modified form along with the Hindustan four-speed gearbox. Contessa boasted of a roomy interior and plush ride, but was criticised for the underpowered engine and primitive gearbox. The car had a Top speed of around 125 km/h.

Things changed in the late 1980s, when Hindustan Motors tied up with Isuzu and started manufacturing their 1.8 L 4ZB1 petrol engine and matching five-speed gearbox for installation in the Contessa. The new car was called the Contessa Classic with distinctive “CLASSIC” and “1.8GL” badging on the trunk lid. The car was an instant success and set a new standard for refinement, power and luxury in the Indian market. The BMC-engined model was phased out in short order. The car could now achieve an increased top speed of 160 km/h. In the 1990s, Hindustan started manufacturing the 2.0 L Isuzu 4FC1 diesel engine that came to power the Contessa Diesel. It as well was an instant success. A turbo diesel version was also introduced a few years later.

We present the reasons why the HM Contessa makes an entry in the ‘Gone but not Forgotten’ series –

  • Though the basic design of Contessa remained the same throughout its life, it was the closest to a Muscle Car Indian customers ever had! Even today a Contessa on roads will garner sure shot head turns and has a sexy appeal.
  • Contessa still enjoys a cult status and has a big fan base for its long hood, clean surface and straight lines.
  • The interior of the car was surprisingly quiet and the seats were extremely comfortable for the passengers.
  • HM introduced numerous features like fuel injection, power windows, power steering, fat bumpers, upgraded headlights, air conditioning, etc were introduced in phases to keep the car appealing to the premium customer.
  • Though owning a car itself was a luxury in India at that time; Contessa featured under ‘Premium/Luxury’ car category. It will be fair to term it as the Luxury Car before the likes of Mercedes, BMW or Audi stormed the Indian market. The car was actually launched at a price of Rs.83,437 and the booking amount was Rs.15,000!

  • The Performance of the car was among the best in India. With the Isuzu engine; the car boasted a top speed of over 160 kmph.
  • The only competition Contessa had during its time was Standard 2000 and the Premier 118 NE. Contessa undoubtedly was the best of the lot.
  • It was an erstwhile Bollywood and Politicians Favourite car in India. It was just not a car, but a Status Symbol!

A Modified Contessa

  • It is a still a dream for many of us to purchase a used Contessa and modify it as per our taste. A lot of Contessa’s already have been tastefully modified by many enthusiasts.
  • Unfortunately we do not have its historical sales data and isn’t presented here.

Contessa has also been imagined as an electric car and we love they way it has been done by Mighty Seed.

Every auto enthusiast in India has a nostalgic memory reserved for the Contessa and will always be remembered for its evergreen retro looks and enthusiastic performance.

What can Automobile Dealerships do during this Crisis?

The Coronavirus pandemic has created a chaos in the Auto Industry and these trying times demand Disruptive Innovation in the way business is done!

The Automobile Dealerships Fraternity is one of the worst hit business in the current times. The Business was already grappling with the economic slowdown in the previous FY and the covid 19 pandemic made the situation even worse for the automobile industry. The lockdown in India meant that the OEMs and the dealerships were completely shut during the period and both the parties faced colossal business losses. The lockdown’s impact to the automotive sector has been so severe that the industry body SIAM estimates that the auto industry would have lost ₹2,300 crore turnover every day due to the lockdown. In dealerships perspective; the losses would actually be more lethal and it is time that they take adequate steps to slowly move towards normalcy.

Let us first see how the businesses have resumed post lockdown:

  • Even as on date; all automobile dealerships are still not open! While the lockdown was imposed from March 23rd 2020; still many dealerships have their shutter down in India (specifically in areas where the covid spread is increasing and authorities have asked businesses to remain shut).
  • The dealerships which have resumed operations are facing deserted showrooms, no buyers, existing booked customers shying away from the purchases!
  • The drained economy has made things worse – Potential buyers have either lost money either in their businesses or the working class is just concerned about retaining their jobs. The overall sentiment isn’t very encouraging.
  • Fear Factor among the prospects visiting the showroom – The new norms at the dealerships include plastic wraps on steering wheels and seats, home drop-offs for test drives and personalized new-car deliveries! Still customers fear visiting the showrooms to avoid contact.
  • Will Test Drives cease to exist? For now, Yes! Customers are simply skipping Test Drives for now and are judging more on the knowledge gained online!

So what should the Automobile Dealerships do deal with the current situation? We strongly believe in the philosophy of ‘ADAPT TO SURVIVE‘ and the steps we recommend is as mentioned :

  • Safe Dealership Environment: The Dealerships resuming business have to take adequate measures to ensure the safety of its employees and the customers. This can only happen with the rigorous implementation of Social Distancing, Usage of Sanitizers, Regular Cleaning of Touchpoints and Wearing of Masks. Any glitch can jeopardize not only employee / customer health; but shall also jeopardize the business operation itself.
  • Effective Stock Management: Stock Carrying Costs is one of the highest expenditure for an automobile dealership and has to be immediately looked at. Dealerships should focus all efforts in liquidating the stock in hand and also get only those models/variants from the OEMs where they have a customer order. Or else stock carrying cost can drain out a significant amount of Dealerships Capital. The current stock levels at the dealerships is extremely scary (~4 times that at OEMs) –

Source: ET Auto

  • Strengthening Online Presence: While all the major OEMs have taken initiatives to serve the customers online; the dealerships would have to be even more proactive to approach the prospects online. We recommend that the dealerships approach natural ways to engage prospects (Ex: Dealership Website, FB/Insta/Twitter Page); rather than focusing on paid channels. This will ensure that they are able to serve the right set of customers and also enable them to strengthen their engagement on online channels. The catch here will be the faster time of response – Dealerships would have to be extremely active in terms of responding to the customer queries or they may just lose that customer!
  • REDUCE COSTS: This is going to the biggest mantra for now. We have explained earlier on how capital intensive automobile dealerships are – here. It is high time that the automobile dealerships review their business costs and cut the optional expenses. Also it is imperative that dealerships running multiple outlets take a call on closing down the outlets which been unprofitable since more than 12-18 months. It does not make any practical sense to drain resources on non performing outlets at this critical juncture.
  • Build Relationships: After a sale is commenced; generally customers are ignored. We haven’t seen a breakthrough CRM at any dealership who tracks customers important dates (like birthdays, anniversaries, etc) and take respective action to approach. However; this is the time that the dealerships value the relationship with their set of customers and INTERACT. A vehicle purchase is an emotional one and a healthy relationship between the buyer and the seller will make the entire ecosystem fruitful. Also a happy customer will always be a trustworthy source of references to improve business!
  • Enhance After Sales Experience: Lot of efforts should be laid on ensuring that the customers have a fuss-free and delightful vehicle service experience. These are difficult times for all – and a bad after sales experience can be detrimental to any brand or dealership!
  • Manpower Training: Manpower is undoubtedly the most important resource in any organisation. Automobile Dealerships consistently were facing challenges of having untrained/unprofessional manpower. They shall not get a better chance to equip their team with the right set of tools to serve customers better. A well trained manpower can definitely become a major USP in the current situation.
  • Unite: We have seen automobile dealerships get into petty fights to secure a customer. Many a times higher discounts are offered; or even bad mouthing of competition is done to gain a customer. The fraternity needs to value the saying – ‘United we stand; divided we fall’. The dealerships have to unite together to ensure ethics are maintained in business across the channel and maintain adherence.
  • Higher Margins: The Margins of Passenger Vehicle Dealers in India is among the lowest in the world! Also among all businesses; automobile dealership businesses command one of the lowest margins. It is a meager 4-5% in India; while a automobile dealer in Europe earn upto 14% in Europe. It is high time that the Vehicle Margin Levels are reviewed and increased to support the dealership business operations. However; this call has to be taken by the respective OEMs and dealers should unitedly demand for it.

As per FADA; the automobile dealerships across the country employs over 40 lakh people at dealerships and service centres. These include 25 lakh direct employees and another 15 lakh who are dependent on dealerships for their livelihood. It is extremely imperative that the automobile dealerships make a way out of this chaos till demand picks up. And yes; there will be a shift in consumer demand. People are going to want private transportation and would not want to use public transportation – But unless it translates into end sales; dealerships will have to survive till then!

If you liked this article; we strongly recommend you to read through the ‘All about Automobile Dealerships’ Series – Part 1Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.

Gone but not Forgotten Series – Fiat Punto

Do read our earlier articles in the ‘Gone but not Forgotten’ series – Toyota Qualis, Ford Fusion, Tata Nano, Skoda Octavia Mk1 and Chevrolet Tavera.

The Punto was actually the worldwide successor of the Uno in Fiat’s portfolio. Fiat had launched the Punto nameplate globally in the year 1993. Internally code-named Project 176, the Punto was announced in September 1993 as a replacement for the ageing Fiat Uno and was finally launched in the end of 1993 in the global markets. The Fiat Punto was voted European Car of the Year for 1995, defeating rival Volkswagen Polo! Punto was designed by one of the world’s most iconic car designer Giorgetto Giugiaro – He had designed models in brands like Alpha Romeo, Maserati, VW, Lamborghini & even Ferrari. Giugiaro is widely famous for designing the DMC DeLorean which was notable in its own time for its unique design and was also featured in the Hollywood Blockbuster Series Back to the Future.

India actually received the third generation Punto; also known as the Grande Punto. The car was based from the GM Fiat Small platform – Developed from 2002 in Italy, by Ulrich Schmalohr the engineer head of Opel (subsidiary of General Motors) and Giorgio Cornacchia head-project of Fiat Auto the Small platform was designed to be adaptable for Fiat Group and General Motors small cars. Even the Opel Corsa D was developed from the same platform. The Grande Punto was launched in India during the Delhi Auto Expo in January 2008, with sales starting in June 2009. The Punto was manufactured by the Fiat Tata Motors joint venture Fiat India Automobiles Ltd (FIAL) in a new plant in Ranjangaon, Maharashtra.

We present the reasons why the Fiat Punto makes an entry in the ‘Gone but not Forgotten’ series –

  • Punto was the best selling model in the Fiat India’s Lineup. Fiat had sold 72,235 units in the 10 years of the lifecycle of the model.
  • Timeless Design – Even as on date Punto stands out as one of the best looking hatchback on the road! No wonder it was designed by the legendary Giugiaro. The car’s nose, headlights and front grill look reminiscent of the Maserati Coupé (both were designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro of ItalDesign).
  • Solid Build Quality – The car at its time had received 5 star safety ratings in the Euro NCAP and felt the sturdiest vehicle in its category. Still the Punto customers go gaga about Punto’s solid build and paint quality levels.
  • Calibrated Handling – The car had set new benchmarks in terms of ride quality, high speed dynamics and overall handling. It was nothing but an enthusiasts dream!
  • Excellent Steering Feedback – The Punto was one of last small cars to be equipped with a hydraulic power steering. The steering was brilliant to use and gel well with the ride and handling prowess that the car possessed.
  • Came with National Diesel Engine of India – Fiat was the pioneer of 1.3L Multijet diesel engine and the one in Punto developed 74 bhp Power and 197 Nm of Torque.
  • An Enthusiasts first choice – Punto was one of the first cars to give importance on the overall driving pleasure and ride quality. Even Fiat marketed the Punto to be crafted for a True Fan!

  • The model was surely a savior for Fiat India – The car contributed to 51% of Fiat’s sales in India during its timeline!
  • Fiat later launched various iterations/updates – namely the Punto Evo and the Avventura –

  • The Punto + Evo + Avventura’s combined sales was 72,235 units
  • Even the Abarth version of the Punto was launched in Jan 2016 and it could sell 357 units in its lifetime.
  • Also though Linea was launched before Punto in India; It was developed from the Punto platform!

Let us look at the Punto’s Sales Trend through its years of existence in the Indian market –

  • The Punto had a promising start and sold 9,674 units in the first year of its launch.
  • Punto’s sales increased in the second year and crossed 10k sales mark in 2010. It continued to cross 10k sales in 2011; but post that could never achieve the feat.
  • Do note that Punto was sold in Tata showrooms in its initial days. The showroom staff always had a dilemma to pitch Fiat’s Punto or Tata’s Vista! The inhouse clash actually affected both the brands.
  • The sales did improve in 2014 when the Evo was launched and this time in a dedicated Fiat Showroom.
  • However; the sales couldn’t stabilize and the volumes fell owing to :
    • Low Resale Value
    • Poor Service Experience
    • Higher Cost of Maintenance & Reliability Concerns
    • Lower Network Availability
  • Anyhow with the death of Punto; Fiat brand too takes an exit from the Indian Market. All efforts from FCA is to focus on Jeep marque for India.

Punto made an impact for pioneering the ‘hot hatch’ culture in India. The Indian consumer was traditionally devoid of performance oriented, good looking and capable hatches – Fiat broke the mould and launched the Punto in the Indian market. Punto was always an enthusiasts car and shall always be remembered as one!