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See how Wishbox 2.0 will make Mercedes Benz cars more affordable!

What we understand is that Wishbox 1.0 was a massive success in 2019. This has led to Mercedes Benz bring out a more aggressive Wishbox 2.0 now. A lot of OEMs are focusing on announcing smart financing schemes to support customer purchases in the Covid era. While Mass Market OEMs like Hyundai, Mahindra, Maruti, etc have already announced similar schemes; Mercedes Benz takes the initiative in the Luxury OEMs.

Wishbox 1.0 actually helped Mercedes strengthen the leadership position in 2019. We believe that Wishbox 2.0 is way upgraded from Wishbox 1.0.

What was Wishbox 1.0?

  • Key-to-Key Change : The plan allowed the customer own two Mercedes-Benz cars in a span of four years. It allows for two upgrades for no extra cost. And package was offered on the Mercedes-Benz GLE, GLS and S-Class.
  • 25-25-25-25 : The scheme allowed the buyer to purchase the Mercedes-Benz product in four installments. The first installment was 25 per cent the price of the car and then pay three annual payments of 25 per cent each. The cars included in the offer were Mercedes-Benz GLC, GLE, GLS.
  • Zero Down payment : The regular downpayment of the Mercedes-Benz is at 40 per cent of the price. This scheme took off that hassle and the customer only paid the road-tax to purchase the car/SUV and then the rest of the amount was converted to EMIs for the next 60 months.
  • Star Agility+ and Comprehensive insurance : The package provided new customers with 40 per cent lesser EMIs which are inclusive of the maintenance, warranty and assured buyback. Also complimentary insurance program was offered for two years from purchase.

Our Views: It was majorly focused on getting more customers know the Brand.

What is Wishbox 2.0?

  • EMI free period – no EMI for first three months
  • Step up 2020 – lesser EMIs for the first six months with regular EMIs starting from 7th month of purchase
  • 10 year loan – 10-year extended loan

Hence what ‘Wishbox 2.0’, primarily offers is customized financial solutions including no EMI for first three months, lesser EMIs for the first six months with regular EMIs starting from 7th month of purchase and 10-year extended loan.

Our Views: We believe that the scheme is aligned towards the current Market situation where customers are scared. Hope the demand picks up basis easy and comfortable finance options.








An Assessment of the Online Cars Sales Options in India

Online Sales Experience by brands. What we feel? Also, some feedback for the Manufacturers..

Car buying in India has always been driven by the ‘Touch & Feel’ model. While the consumers used to ‘research’ online; a lot of activities was still conducted at the showroom for finalizing the purchase. The activities primarily included Display & Demo of the Car, Test Drive, Booking, Finance Options, Exchange and finally delivery of the car. Covid 19 Pandemic has turned the dynamics of car purchase and is going to change the way people shall buy cars (atleast for now). While customers would be wary to physically approach the dealership and take the transaction ahead; majority of the OEMs have jumped to provide the ‘Online’ route to the prospects.

We are still on Websites when customers rarely use them:

We believe the OEMs are still lagging behind in the use of technology. While the world has graduated to the usage of apps; the OEMs have just stepped in to provide options to purchase vehicle online – and that too its not seemless in many cases. These are Covid times and manufacturers just need to be ahead of the curve!

As connected capability grows, automakers are investing significant resources in developing mobile apps for their vehicles. Despite a considerable effort, many apps are falling short of automakers’ hype. In the interconnected world of smartphone apps, the negative consequences of not delivering what’s promised can be profound.



Let’s review all the Online Car Selling websites available:

We have attempted to go through all the major Mass, Premium & Luxury brands to understand their Online Sales process. As mentioned before we feel that, all of them are still on websites when the world is on apps. Amazon & Flipkart have spoilt customers of choices. We see brands like Mercedes Benz who are able to display their stocks on the website. This seems to be by far the best brands could reach up to.

While we compare all the Websites; many of them have done a decent job, while some interfaces aren’t friendly at all. We present you the snapshot of our assessment here –

Mahindra, Kia & Nissan outdo the other Mass & Premium Car Manufacturers:

Mahindra: Simple, Detailed & Complete purchase experience. Hence Excellent Rating. Do visit the link mentioned below.

Link: https://www.mahindrasyouv.com/mahindra-cars/

‘Own Online’ option from Mahindra

The entire M&M PV portfolio on offer

Integration with Mahindra First Choice a good option to facilitate exchange

Kia: Premium Experience, Well Guided, Felt special through the experience. Do visit the link mentioned below to know more. Kia had already tasted success during the Seltos Pre-Launch bookings phase. It has received considerable amount of bookings online. It is now attempting to go seemless for the entire purchase experience now.

Link: https://www.kia.com/in/buy/configure/select-a-vehicle.html

There is a Virtual Reality Showroom too where you can explore the interiors & exteriors of the models in detail

Nissan: With just 1 Car (Kicks) to sell, amazed to see the detailing into the website. Gives a feel that Nissan is still serious about India.

360 degree view, A feel of a showroom at home, Detailed Explanation of the Car. Pretty Decent Job here!

Link: https://virtualshowroom.nissan.in/

Entire Showroom Feel right from your mobile device!

Let’s now review Online Buying Options of Luxury Brands:

BMW was the first Luxury brand to come very aggressively with their online experience. I would say it was well presented but it doesn’t win this battle of the Best Online Experience. Lot of work required to make the website feel premium.

Link: https://shop.bmw.in/

Mercedes Benz – Leader in the Luxury Space. Didn’t quite meet the expectation of Luxury on it website. We just missed the sheer opulence while we went through the website. Yes, Mercedes was one of the only brands with Real stocks in place which can be booked but it just didn’t attract us.. “ Mercedes is considered to be the epitome of Luxury in India.” – They need to put more effort on their website_ it isn’t simply rich..

Link: https://www.shop.mercedes-benz.co.in/inventory

Audi: Steals the show with AR (Augmented Reality). While other options have been kept very simple. Very close to this would be a Mercedes & then a BMW.

Link: https://www.audi.in/in/web/en/models/a6/a6-sedan.html

Just feel that the Top 5 luxury brands should come together to create an integrated app for the benefit of the customers. All of the brands can be on the Menu and feel some one should take the leadership in getting this done.

We anticipate many more disruptions in the days to come in the ways cars are being bought. Let’s see how things transition in the way ahead.








Venue Sketch

Hyundai Turbo, S-Cross Petrol, Edelweiss Switch Insurance And More

Hyundai’s Tiny Turbo Petrol Engine Is Winning

The Venue was the first car in India to bring Hyundai’s 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine. Among Venue buyers, this engine accounts for a 47% share. Now this engine is available in the Aura sub-compact sedan, Grand i10 Nios hatchback and Verna compact sedan. Soon, this engine will power the Kia Sonet and the next-gen Hyundai Elite i20. It comes with 100PS and 120PS power ratings. The 100PS version is available in the Nios and Aura with a 5-speed MT. The 120PS version is available in the Venue and Verna. Transmission options for the 120PS variant are a 7-speed DCT automatic and a 6-speed MT.

The Aura turbo’s only rival was the Tigor JTP as it had a 3-digit power figure. Now, there’s none. A year ago, Nios turbo would have rivalled the Baleno RS, Tiago JTP and Polo GT. Now, only the Polo has comparable performance from its new 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine.

Also Read: Volkswagen Polo And Vento TSI Edition

Opinion

The Nios turbo’s torque-to-weight ratio puts it in the league with of Abarth Punto. So, its acceleration should be the best you will ever experience for a sub-Rs. 10 lakh car.

Hyundai and Kia are going against the tide and winning customers over. Almost all of their cars come with a diesel and a small turbo petrol engine. In times when everyone else is going lean, these South Korean sister companies are expanding like there’s no tomorrow.

Also Read: 2020 Hyundai Verna Facelift Relaunch With 3 Engines

It’s worth noting though, that the 1.0-litre turbo petrol is the only engine option in the reasonably equipped variants of the Venue. Naturally, it has an upper hand over the 1.2-litre normal petrol engine.

Source

Maruti Suzuki S-Cross Petrol Hybrid Launch Soon

Multiple reports are pointing towards the imminent launch of Maruti S-Cross petrol. The exact launch date is still under covers but dealers are unofficially accepting bookings for the car.

Maruti Suzuki S-Cross
Maruti Suzuki S-Cross

The Brezza went from diesel-only to petrol-only while transitioning to BS6. The S-Cross is also doing the same thing. It’s unclear if the S-Cross will offer the hybrid engine with the manual transmission or reserve it for the automatic. Their 4-speed torque converter is a vintage piece of tech with gas-guzzling characteristics. The hybrid part boost helps it negate the fuel efficiency disadvantage to a great extent.

Opinion

After dominating the diesel passenger vehicle segment for over a decade, Maruti Suzuki suddenly dropped diesel engines entirely from their portfolio. VW/Skoda and Renault – Nissan are also on the petrol-only path. Honda are also dropping the diesel option from a few vehicles but retaining it in others. This is leaving the playing field open for Hyundai and Kia to scoop it up. Kia was reporting a 50-50 split between petrol and diesel engine options for the Seltos. That suggests a strong demand for diesel engines. After the COVID dust settles, things could go in any direction. For now, Hyundai and Kia are ready to grab the entire diesel passenger car market as they have a diesel engine in almost all of their cars.

Also Read: No Diesel For Honda Jazz And CR-V

Source

Maruti’s 2-Month EMI Holiday With Little Details

After Renault, Maruti Suzuki are also offering a 2-month EMI holiday option with the purchase of their cars. It’s available from their partner, Cholamandalam Investment and Finance. Under the offer, you can opt to start your payments 2 months after the purchase of the vehicle.

Opinion

Renault also announced a similar offer with a 3-month EMI break. However, unlike Renault, Maruti Suzuki haven’t clarified the maximum principle, rate of interest and the loan tenure to benefit from this offer. Renault’s offer has a loan amount cap depending on which vehicle you buy.

Also Read: Renault’s 3-Month EMI Holiday

Edelweiss Usage-Based Vehicle Insurance

Edelweiss Switch - Usage Based Vehicle Insurance
Edelweiss Switch – Usage-Based Vehicle Insurance

Update May 24: We spoke with an Edelweiss representative and found out that only fire and theft are included for the entire year even when you turn off the cover through the app. This is a first-party cover only and you’ll have to separately buy a third-party add-on, which is required by law. This is a zero-dep cover by default and also includes cover for consumables and road-side assistance. You have to maintain a 60-day balance in the account. The first payment includes that 2-month balance. For a total insured sum of Rs. 5.0 lakh for 2 cars and 2 drivers in the house, a typical initial payment will be a little over Rs. 5,000. The monthly payments will be around Rs. 1,000 – IF – you use your vehicle every day of the month. Otherwise, the amount payable will reduce depending on the number of days you enable the cover as the premium is applicable on a daily basis. So, the maximum yearly payment will come to about Rs. 15,000. Considering that I have only used my vehicles about 10 times in the last 2 months, I would have to pay about Rs. 350 for this duration instead of Rs. 2,000 under this plan.

General insurance provider, Edelweiss, have announced a usage-based insurance plan. Under this, you can have up to 3 vehicles and up to 3 drivers insured under 1 plan. You can then enable or disable the plan depending on your usage. Some protections from natural calamities, theft, fire, etc. are covered even when you have paused protection. There’s a yearly payment involved and after that, you pay a monthly payment, which varies depending on your usage.

Overall, this should help you cut down on insurance costs if your usage is limited. Unfortunately, there is no option for a 0-depreciation cover under the Switch plan. So, if you have a new vehicle and you like to keep it as protected as possible, then this is not for you.

For more information, head to their official website: Edelweiss Switch – Driver Based Insurance

Click here to download the product brochure.

Opinion

For most vehicle owners, this could help them save some cash if their vehicle usage is minimal or seasonal. This plan also changes how we use vehicle insurance as it brings customers into a subscription world. Just like a Spotify or Netflix subscription, your vehicle insurance premium could become part of your monthly bills. This option could improve customer retention for Edelweiss.








Gone but not Forgotten Series – Chevrolet Tavera

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

A lot of eyebrows will be raised for including Chevrolet’s Tavera in the list of ‘Gone but not Forgotten’ series. However; we exactly list the reasons why it makes an entry in the series –

  • Tavera was Chevrolet’s best selling model in the Indian sub-continent!
  • General Motors sold a whopping 2,08,431 units of the Tavera in the Indian market.
  • Tavera was Chevy’s longest running model too! The model was sold for almost 14 years (2004 to 2017).
  • Not surprisingly – this best selling Chevy was not a General Motors product; rather it was a re-badged Isuzu Panther! However; it was developed together as the “160 Project”.
  • The Tavera was actually built in the GM Halol, Gujarat plant with knock-down kit sourced from Isuzu Indonesia!

  • Tavera was developed to meet local Indian conditions in terms of harsh climate, uneven roads and large family structure.
  • The model was highlighted as a durable vehicle. It was also the Taxi operators favorite and they use to swear by the Tavera’s reliability and low running costs.
  • Tavera was a bigger brand than Chevrolet in Rural India. The rural customers may not recognize Chevrolet; but they could easily identify a Tavera!
  • In many cases; one could even hear the Chevrolet dealership being called as a Tavera dealership instead. Such was the brand equity of Tavera in the rural pockets of India.
  • The model was Chevrolet’s cash cow in India. The model had the most consistent sales volume in the Indian market with little / minor changes in its lifetime.
  • Even during the last stage; Tavera was contributing to over 50% of General Motors India’s sales! In 2017; Tavera sold 3,028 units v/s the overall GM sales of 7,434 units.

The name of the vehicle comes from the name of the small French village Tavera, in Corsica, known for its steep paths and rough roads. Tavera’s main competition included vehicles like the Toyota Innova, Mahindra Bolero and Tata Sumo. Tavera was available in India with diesel engine and a manual transmission. The vehicle was available in 7,8 and 9 seater configurations. Under the hood it was available with 2.5 litre diesel engine delivering a power and torque of 72 bhp and 171 Nm respectively. As for the fuel economy, the BS3 compliant diesel engine claimed to deliver 13.58 km/l.



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

  • Chevrolet Tavera registered its all time highest sale in the year 2007 when it sold 21,866 units. Also Tavera’s highest monthly sales was reported on September 2006 (2,222 units).
  • The model saw an upswing in sales in 2011-12 as well when it consistently reported >20k sales for 2 years repeatedly.
  • The model was primarily termed as a cheaper option to the Toyota Innova and had a strong fan base in the rural & taxi markets.
  • Even during the General Motors exit from the Indian market; Tavera was easily liquidated by its dealers and its void still hasn’t been filled by any OEM till date.
  • Even after the launch of a much cheaper MPV Enjoy; Chevrolet used to sell much higher numbers of Tavera.
  • Anyhow Tavera’s ride in the country, was not a smooth one. GM had to recall all Taveras built between 2005 and 2013 as they were manipulated to beat the emission norm. General Motors’ emission fudging episode left the company and government authorities red-faced.
  • The emission norm changes too led to the death of the model. The model could never upgrade to the BS IV norms and it had to slowly phase itself out.

Tavera will always be remembered as a capable, fuss free and a reliable workhorse. The model still has a huge fan following among the rural & taxi buyers and is sorely missed over the years of its phase out. Even GM itself wouldn’t have anticipated that Tavera would become its best selling and most consistent model in the Indian sub-continent. Hence though that the model is Gone; it is definitely not forgotten.








MoRTH

MoRTH Issues Notification To Limit Unfair Fastag Lane Use – Opinion

Ministry of Road Transport and Highways recently issued a notification to address a keyword issue. You had to have a Fastag to drive through the Fastag lanes. Even if it was damaged, you could, technically, fight your way through with the official word on your side. The MoRTH addressed this with GSR 298E. The clause now says that the tag should also be functional and valid.

Entry for non-tag users in Fastag lanes results in double toll as a fine.

Click here to read the official circular.

Here’s the excerpt from the amendment:

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has issued notification GSR 298 E,  dated 15th May 2020 for  amendment in the  National Highways Fee (Determination of Rates and Collection) Rules, 2008 which provide  that if a vehicle which is not fitted with FASTag or the vehicle  is without a valid or functional FASTag, enters into “FASTag lane” of the Fee plazas, then they  shall pay a fee equivalent to two times of the fee applicable to that category of vehicles. 

Before this amendment, the user of vehicle was to pay twice on the fee plaza only if the vehicle didn’t carry the FASTag and entered in dedicated FASTag lane.

FASTAG
FASTAG

Opinion

Even if you have a functional tag and the toll plaza’s hardware is the issue, it’s going to be difficult to prove that your tag is fine. Incorrect installation and non-maintenance could also lead to the malfunctioning of the RFID reader.

A rushed approach towards implementing the Fastag had its fair share of hurdles and caused traffic jams at several booths. That’s the exact opposite of what we were promised. Lots of road users have also had to pay cash at the booth only to find out later that the toll was also deducted from their account. Instead of educating the road users and delivering the promised results, the MoRTH bullied road users into getting a tag by closing all but one lane at toll plazas for non-tag users. Ideally, it should work as any startup does. Offer enough value to the end-users that they’re happy to pay for your product or service. This could be done by gradually increasing the number of Fastag-exclusive lanes at all toll booths.

The Reality

At the Kherki-Daula toll (NH8 Gurugram), for instance, there were 2 Fastag-exclusive lanes on each side. This is long before the Fastag became mandatory. The order to penalize non-tag users for using the tag lane has been around for a few years. Yet, it was never implemented at this plaza. Eventually, thousands of drivers found that there was no value in having a tag. Since the number of cash transactions was still quite high in these lanes, the authorities decided to drop the number of Fastag-exclusive lanes to 1 on each side. Poor enforcement of rules at the plaza was proving that the Fastag wasn’t offering enough value to the drivers to encourage adoption.

The Pain

All of a sudden, Fastag became mandatory, which led to huge traffic jams at the this Kherki Daula plaza. It got so much worse, that taking a longer alternate route became not only cheaper but faster for people. Talk about falling in your own pit.

The worst case is that everyone gets stuck in traffic because the road users aren’t ready to pay twice the tax. As a best case, the Fastag was speeding up the journey for its users by slowing down non-tag users. As there’s only 1 lane for non-tag users, it creates a severe bottleneck even at booths, which can use other lanes could ease the flow without affecting tag users.

This is a huge source of revenue for MoRTH as car owners have to buy a tag and maintain some balance. Those who have to rarely travel on the highways may also cave-in to avoid the pain of getting stuck in the only cash lane. Fastag was supposed to be faster for tag users. Not necessarily at the cost of slowing down non-tag users.

Risk To Privacy Though Location Tracking

Every time you go through a toll booth, the transaction record notes your location. Granted that this could potentially help you locate your lost vehicle. But, in the wrong hands, it’s a record of your routine, which can easily predict your location in future by drawing patterns. Machine Learning algorithms are already capable of doing this. Whether you’re comfortable sharing your location with the government officials depends on how much you trust them to safeguard it. History is not on their side. Aadhaar data breach and the recent revelation of security risks in the Arogya Setu app should be proof enough.

NHAI
NHAI

No Official MoRTH Order Mandating Fastag

I dug deeper and tried to find the actual order mandating Fastag. I’ve scoured through MoRTH’s and NHAI’s portal and Googled the hell out of Google and the closest thing I could find was a press release on PIB claiming that the MoRTH has “decided to declare” all lanes as Fastag-exclusive lanes. But, there’s a big difference between “deciding” to declare and “declaring”. “My friend has decided to buy a car” and “My friend has bought a car” have different meanings.

For clarifications, I’ve personally written to the Nodal Officer of the Indian Highways Management Company and NHAI officials but never received a response. Since Paytm and other banks were also marketing and selling Fastag, I tried to reach out to Paytm and HDFC. Their representatives claimed to acknowledge that Fastag is mandatory but couldn’t show me a copy of the MoRTH notification. The reps tried their best to end the conversation as soon as I asked for their permission to quote them.

Perhaps I’m missing something. If you happen to come across such a MoRTH order/notification mandating Fastag at all national highway toll plazas, then kindly consider providing us with the link for the same in our comment section.

No Toll If ETC Machine Malfunctioning

Another circular from 2018 allows you to drive through a Fastag lane for free if you have a valid, functional tag with adequate balance but the electronic toll collection machine can’t read your tag. We strongly urge you to keep a hard copy of this order with you to minimize the chances of getting in an argument with the toll booth operator – should you end up in such a situation.

Click here to read/download a copy of this MoRTH circular

Suggested Reads:

Hindustan Times: Chaos at Laddowal Toll as FASTag glitches continue

Times Of India: FASTag chaos at toll plazas on Solapur-Dhule highway

Indian Express: Long lines at Kherki Daula on day 1 of FASTag rollout, jam stretches 2 km

MoneyLife: Aadhaar Data Breach Largest in the World, Says WEF’s Global Risk Report and Avast

India Today: Aarogya Setu not mandatory? Govt softens stance in Lockdown 4.0 guidelines

In Home Ministry’s sharp U-turn, Aarogya Setu not mandatory to resume office