Adieu 2020 Welcome 2021: Industry stakeholders offer assessment

The year that’s just over left an indelible impression on all of us in a variety of ways. The coronavirus pandemic, which struck the world in the beginning of 2020, wreaked havoc upon mankind, trampled economies, mauled businesses and gave birth to new lifestyles. The auto sector also suffered a great deal, particularly during the first half of the year, but staged a swift recovery once the corona-induced lockdown was lifted. With its inherent resilient nature, the automobile industry adapted fast to the new normal, evolved fresh business paradigm and matched the transformed consumer preferences exceptionally well. In that regard, the year 2020 has been a great learning opportunity as well. The last months of the year, starting with the festival season, witnessed healthy growth in sales, thereby, lifting the morale of the industry, which ushered into the New Year 2021with enormous hopes, renewed confidence, and cautious optimism.   

Herewith, we reproduce the assessment of some key stakeholders of the automobile industry about the year gone by and their outlook for the year ahead of us. 

Mr. Shashank Srivastava

Executive Director (Marketing & Sales)

Maruti Suzuki India Limited

“The year 2020 can be termed as a ‘Tale of two Halves ‘, with the first half being rather disastrous from the sales point of view. The second half though saw a strong bounce back largely on account of pent-up demand and a good comeback from rural areas. However, overall the industry should end with a big negative in volumes.

The year began decently enough with markets improving from the negative sales in 2019. Then came the unprecedented lockdown due to the pandemic which altered the industry scenario and the consumer behaviour hugely.

On the consumer side, conspicuous consumption was replaced with conscious spending. The consumer moved away from public transport and shared mobility to personal transportation. The industry showed great resilience and took this as an opportunity to relook and re-examine every process for increased efficiency, cost optimisation and productivity.  

We can look forward to 2021 with some optimism as regards the auto industry markets. But, of course, it is not easy to give a forward guidance to the demand. However, given the smart recovery in the economy, good monsoons and the expected good liquidity in the market, we can look forward to 2021 with guarded optimism.”

Mr. Rajesh Jain

CMD, Neolite

“The year gone by – 2020 has been the most taxing, full of uncertainty, filled with anxiety and with the road to recovery looking very bleak. But at the start of 2021, with the COVID-fallout in the rearview mirror, we all are looking forward to new beginnings and new opportunities.

Indeed the year gone by has been a life-changing experience and great learning experience for us and we all have endured very difficult and unprecedented times. In spite of the adversities, we at Neolite group are fortunate to have weathered the storm bravely and in fact come out stronger and better. I wish to thank our partners, customers, suppliers and employees for their wonderful support. Automotive sector on the whole has coped rather well during this turbulent year and we are now very well on the growth path. Overall, India’s self-resilience and strong resolve has led to a faster recovery than envisaged by experts.

The year 2021 will be a resurgent year and I am excitedly looking ahead for a path filled with brightness.”

Mr Swapnil Jain

CEO, Pavna Group

The post-COVID world will not be the same and affect automotive habits of individuals. There may be much speculation but glimpse of the future will unfold within a couple of quarters. Exports throw up lot of opportunity for the Indian automotive industry to grab and flourish. However, the Government support policies and diplomacy will be the key. Domestic demand is expected to bounce back by the next festive season on an optimistic scale.”

Vinnie Mehta

Director General, ACMA

“After a few months of unprecedented challenges, the industry bounced back better than many expected and performed well in the festive season. Though 2020 was a rollercoaster ride for the entire auto industry and while the four-wheeler market ended the bittersweet year on a high note, the two-wheeler segment wasn’t far behind either. Going forward, positive sentiments are likely to be in play as the Government has started acknowledging the challenges posed for the industry and taking action on these. The recent launch of the vaccine is expected to revive many industries thus boosting demand. Also, the monsoon has been good which will give impetus to improvement in tractor industry. Rural economy is expected to revive leading to better sales of tractors and also two-wheelers, especially motorcycles.

Mr Sanjay Malhotra

MD, Jumps Auto Industries Ltd

“THE year 2020 has been a very challenging year and we all look at 2021 with a lot of hope. I am expecting a V-shape recovery in 2021 and my expectation is based on the following:  The first is that the uncertainty around business will reduce when the vaccination process starts, Secondly agricultural income is quite buoyant and will drive demand. Further the change to BS-VI which affected the sales in 2020 will no longer be relevant and lastly I feel that the Govt is injecting a lot of money into the economy which will also drive demand in all sectors including automotive.”