Buyers of Indian cars become less price conscious; More emphasis on vehicle design: JD Power

NEW DELHI: The attitude of Indian car buyers is shifting from price awareness to those who are driven by the appearance and content of the vehicle as they give more emphasis to the style, according to a study by JD Power. According to the study conducted by the global provider of advisory services and information to the consumer regarding sales satisfaction, Hyundai held the highest position, followed by Mahindra and Mahindra and Toyota .

Indicating that customer priorities have changed from functionality to form, the JD Power 2019 Indian Sales Satisfaction Index noted that buyers are putting more emphasis (up to 9 percentage points since 2018) on vehicle style, both exterior as interior, when choosing a model.

Other aspects, such as performance and reliability (up to 7 percentage points), as well as technology (up to 5 percentage points) also play a more important role in determining vehicle choice, he added.

On the other hand, the aspects that decrease in importance are the price of the vehicle/fees and the ability to obtain financing (both down 4 percentage points), said the study.

Commenting on the findings, JD Power director and country chief for India, Kaustav Roy, said: Today's Indian car buyer is much more demanding than ever. With clear expectations about the design and characteristics of the vehicle, the current preferences of the buyers are changing from price awareness to those who are driven by the appearance and content of the vehicle.

However, automotive industry leaders, including Maruti Suzuki India President RC Bhargava and Toyota Kirloskar Motor The vice president, Vikram Kirloskar, had stated that the affordability of the vehicles had become a problem as the auto industry tries to get out of one of the worst sales declines.

In terms of buyers' economic background, the JD Power study said that customers with a monthly family income of more than Rs 75,000 accounted for 33 percent of all buyers in 2019, a marked increase of 18 percent in 2017.

Consequently, customers can now cover the cost of a car with fewer months of revenue than before (15 months in 2019 versus 18 months in 2017), he added.

However, customers admitted that vehicle prices have increased, even more so for small cars. They indicated that the purchase price has increased in the last three years, with prices 5% higher than in 2018 and 11% higher than in 2017.

This increase is more evident in the small car segment (9% higher than 2017) and relatively less in the SUV segment (3% higher than 2017), he said.

When it comes to overall sales satisfaction, JD Power said Hyundai Motor India topped with a score of 873 (on a 1,000-point scale), followed by Mahindra (872) and Toyota (854) ranks third.

The overall sales satisfaction for the mass market segment is 846, an increase of 4 points compared to 2018, he said.