A graduate in Mechanical Engineering and a serial entrepreneur, Raghav has led leadership roles in global corporates such as Accenture and others.
The age-old phrase ‘Change is constant’ is extremely apt when it comes to changes in technology, for it is technology that creates a ripple effect, driving changes in all the other sectors in an economy. Technological changes play a massive role in sectors like hospitality, automobiles, fashion and lifestyle, entertainment, media to name a few. The automobile industry in India, for one, has been revolutionized through technology.
The automobile industry forms a big chunk of the luxury lifestyle segment as well as the economy. India became the fourth largest auto market in 2018 with sales increasing 8.3 per cent year-on-year to 3.99 million units. The Indian automotive industry is expected to reach Rs 16.16-18.18 trillion (US$ 251.4-282.8 billion) by 2026. With continuous improvements in technology, consumer demand for improved offerings keeps on rising, which gives way to increased investment in R&D for the same. This demand is significantly driven by the premium customers who possess the purchasing power, thereby facilitating technological innovation.
Technology has led to a changed landscape in the automobile sector and these changes are not limited to any one segment. Carpools and micro-transit apps have made commuting extremely convenient for the masses. At the same time, self-drive car options offering budget rental packages have tapped into metro cities with huge chunks of consumer-millennials who are college students looking for quick weekend getaways and road trips. You can now have a car rented for an entire weekend at your doorstep in less than an hour or you can choose to go and pick-up a car for a self-drive holiday at your convenience. Technological changes in the automobile industry have truly brought a variety of services to us, accessible through just a click.
However, it is the rapid changes in the luxury lifestyle segment that must be noted. From a shift towards fuel efficient vehicles and the rising demand for electric vehicles, these technology-fuelled changes can be attributed to increased awareness amongst the consumers when it comes to the impact of the automobile industry and the need for sustainability. With an increase in per capita incomes, consumers now possess a higher personal disposable income and coupled with the rise in awareness, the readiness to pay more for better services has increased. Millennials, businessmen, high net worth individuals (HNIs) in metropolitan cities and Tier-1 cities now want to travel in luxury, be it to a business meeting or a corporate retreat. With luxury car rental companies, you can hire a BMW, a Mercedes, an Audi or a Jaguar without any hassles. With more companies offering private jet rentals, you can book an entire jet just for you and your family and be assured to have an exclusive experience. The exclusivity that comes with the luxury car hire segment gets even better when you can book it with just one click.
In the past couple of years, the movement for sustainable development has resuscitated and a wave of sustainability has slowly taken over. The need for decarbonization, increased emphasis on fuel-efficiency and the rise in demand for electric vehicles are all trends that are shaping as a result for this need for sustainability. While Tesla remains a frontrunner when it comes to innovating constantly and offering a fleet of electric cars, Volkswagen, Volvo and General Motors also provide electric vehicles, with companies like Hyundai, Kia and Toyota offering hybrid cars.
"The future will witness a sizeable shift towards electric cars in all market segments as sustainability will be on the agenda of every organization"
The future will witness a sizeable shift towards electric cars in all market segments as sustainability will be on the agenda of every organization. This shift, combined with developments in technology, will also see a behavioural shift towards car-rentals as opposed to buying. It is interesting to note that even with electric vehicles coming into picture, certain parts of the population will prefer renting vehicles as per their needs as opposed to investing in and maintaining a vehicle and incurring parking costs. Technology plays a huge role here since it makes it extremely convenient to rent as per your needs as opposed to spending more money and efforts in owning a vehicle.
With the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the effects of which are being felt all around the world, the automobile industry will undergo a lot of changes. However, it is imperative to note that in the near future, all sectors of the economy will have to cater to safety and security as these will remain key concerns even when we come out of the pandemic. Exclusivity offered by luxury car hire companies will now be seen as a necessity. People will abstain from using public transport and will drive their own vehicles. Those who earlier used carpooling as a means of commuting will rethink their decisions. With more people wanting to drive private vehicles, the need for sustainable vehicles will rise, leading to further increase in R&D to provide fuel-efficient, eco-friendly solutions to all income groups.
The times we are in are difficult no doubt, but we can hope for a brighter future, one fuelled by better technology, more innovation and effective solutions in the automobile sector. Technology will lead the path for a better and brighter tomorrow.