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2020 has definitely been an action-packed year for the Indian automotive industry, despite a good part of it being under lockdown. The year started off on a high with the Auto Expo, however, the COVID-19 pandemic quickly ensured all operations were brought to a halt, quite literally.
From witnessing a complete lockdown with 0 units sales in the month of April, to rapidly recovering the losses in the second half of the year. In between this, India even shifted to ‘greener' BS6 emission norms, which was supposed to be the highlight of the year. The year 2020 has definitely witnessed a lot and here are its highlights:
Auto Expo 2020 — Off To A Flying Start
As mentioned before, the year 2020 got off to a flying start with the Auto Expo held in Delhi, during the month of February. The 2020 Auto Expo witnessed a number of new brands showcasing different models, gauging customer interest ahead of its arrival in the country.
On the other hand, the biennial event also had a number of popular brands such as Honda, BMW, Toyota and others missing out on the event.
The 2020 Auto Expo also witnessed a rising number of electric vehicles being showcased from various manufacturers; clearly indicating the future in which the auto industry seems to be headed.
BS6 Emission Norms — Changing Of The Guards
The BS6 emission came into effect from the 1st of April. All vehicle manufacturers in India were quick to update their entire portfolio to the newer more stringent emission norms. The BS6 update, however, did increase prices of all models, especially diesel-powered vehicles.
This led to some manufacturers taking the decision of completely discontinuing diesel engines in the Indian market. This includes brand's like Maruti Suzuki, Skoda, Volkswagen, Renault, Nissan and a few others. Some manufacturers even took the opportunity to discontinue a bunch of their old models, which they felt wasn't worth investing any more.
COVID-19 Lockdown — Fighting Spirit
Starting from mid-March 2020 and all the way to May 2020, the country went under complete lockdown. The government announced a complete stop on all operations. During this time, the auto industry came out in support of the government's fight with COVID-19.
Many major manufacturers donated crores of rupees towards both their respective state and central government's fight against the pandemic. Vehicle manufacturers even got into action, partnering with multiple companies to accelerate the production of equipment such as PPE kits, face masks, Face shields and ventilators.
April Sales — Losses On The Way
With the country under lockdown from mid-March 2020, vehicle manufacturers had to abruptly shut down all operations, including production, sales, service and everything else. This resulted in declining sales in the month of March 2020. However, the worst was yet to come.
For the first time in its history, the Indian automotive industry registered 0 units of domestic sales in the month of April 2020.
Festive Season Recovery — The Resurgence
As companies slowly restarted production and other operations in the second-half, there were many who considered 2020 a lost cause. However, with the arrival of the festive season in India and the rise in preference for personal mobility rather than public transport, vehicle sales quickly garnered momentum.
The pent-up demand over the course of the year, together with the arrival of the auspicious period, helped vehicle manufacturers make light work of sales recovery. Vehicle brands quickly regained back-to-normal status, with many even surpassing sales compared to the previous year.
Thoughts On The Highlights From The Auto Industry
The Indian auto industry has definitely witnessed an action-packed year. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic still far from over, it will be interesting to see how things unfurl in 2021.