Preference for vehicles with traditional powertrain regains traction: Study

The preference for diesel or gasoline-powered has jumped back up among globally as consumers may be looking for the comfort of affordable, tried-and-tested technology in uncertain times, according to Deloitte’s Global Consumer Study 2021.

Among the six countries surveyed for the study, India is the second after US to see a sharp fall in preference for non-gasoline/ The percentage of buyers who would prefer with alternative propulsion has fallen to 32 per cent from 49 per cent a year ago, shows the study.

Interestingly, of the 32 per cent in India who said they will consider cars that offer alternative to the traditional engine, an astounding 24 per cent chose hybrid as an option and not pure electric. This is despite the latter getting a greater policy push as compared to the hybrids.

Unlike most of the other countries that have take a middle route in the form of hybrid vehicles, India has tried leapfrogging straight to pure electric vehicles from the internal combustion engine (ICE). This doesn’t go down too well with the buyers who are a lot more comfortable switching first to a hybrid and then to a pure EV, says Rajeev Singh, partner and automotive sector leader at Deloitte.

“An e-car is not like a two-wheeler that can be charged everywhere. It needs a proper infrastructure,” says Singh. Also, over the years, the Indian consumers have evolved and apart from the hygiene factors like range, charging infra, the driving performance has become a very important criterion for them, he added.

The Global Automotive survey was conducted from September 2020 through October 2020. The response was to the question what type of engine would you prefer in your next vehicle? The countries surveyed included United States, India, Germany, China, Japan and North Korea.

To be sure, the small percentage of respondents stating EVs over ICE vehicles and reflect that e-cars will continue to have a limited appeal due to a host of concerns. These include range, lack of charging infrastructure, cost price, safety concerns and lack of choice.

The survey findings also give insights into consumer buying behavior, and pandemic’s influence on the choice of body type. Along with the risk of downside demand pressure, consumers in India and China may be rethinking the type of vehicle they will acquire next, says the report.

In response to whether the Covid-19 caused one to change the mind regarding the type of vehicle one would most likely to acquire next, close to 57 per cent respondents from India, the highest among all the countries confirmed the pandemic has indeed influenced the decision on body type. It was followed by 36 per cent in China, 19 per cent in Korea, 16 per cent in the US and 14 per cent each in Germany and Japan.

The survey also offers insights into host of other consumer buying behavior on vehicle connectivity, importance of safety, timeline for buying the next vehicle, virtual buying and servicing of vehicles, subscription services, to name a few.

For instance, 48 per cent of the respondents in India said they are willing to pay a reasonable fee to get their vehicles picked up from office or home when the vehicle needs a service. This percentage was the highest among all the countries surveyed. It was 46 per cent in China, 22per cent in Korea, 21 per cent in Japan, and 13 and 16 per cent in Germany and the US.

Respondents from India also topped the chart when it came to payment deferment this year. Close to 52 percent of the total number surveyed in India said they have requested a payment deferment this year. This percentage was 20 in China, 10 in each in the US and Korea and 9 and 5 respectively in Germany and Japan respectively.

“The overall average for the number of consumers requesting a payment deferment this year may be masking an underlying concern among younger consumers in some markets around the world, said the report.

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