2019 is going to be a landmark year for the Indian automotive market. The rules are getting more stringent, cars are going to be safer and also more expensive. Most car-makers are going to be making a shift towards BS-VI compliant engines, which will add to the cost of the vehicle.
If you are on the look out for a car in 2019, here are five things you should consider before taking a decision on the car to buy.
Preference for SUVs
The SUV market in India is growing. In the last financial year, the sale of sedans and hatchbacks grew only 3 percent, while the sales of SUVs grew 21 percent, according to data from the Society of Indian Automotive Manufacturers (SIAM). SUVs now account for nearly 30 percent market share in the overall passenger car market.
In 2019 too, the sales of SUVs will continue to rise, with more models being launched shortly. In the coming months, the Nissan Kicks, Tata Harrier, Mahindra XUV300, MG Hector and a new SUV from Kia will come into the market.
In fact, many hatchback makers are also shifting to cross-overs – like the Ford Freestyle or Honda WR-V – which sell in larger numbers than the Ford Figo or Honda Jazz on which they are based respectively.
This SUV trend is expected to continue, with people perceiving SUVs to be tougher than sedans or hatchbacks, and being able to handle bad roads better.
Rise of the Automatics
India has largely been a country where manual transmission cars dominate. However, thanks to increasing traffic congestion, the demand for automatics is rising.
With the advent of cheaper automatic transmission technologies like AMT (automated manual transmission), where a manual gearbox can be converted with the help of motors and actuators to behave like an automatic, prices have come down.
Most car makers are now looking at offering automatic transmission variants of their cars especially for buyers in cities. In the lower-priced segment, these ‘automatics’ are mainly AMTs, while torque-converters and dual-clutch (DSG) gearboxes are prevalent on the more expensive cars. The luxury car segment is almost 100 percent made up of automatic transmission cars only.
Safer Cars, More Standard Features
This year the new Bharat NCAP car safety norms kick in from April. All new vehicles will have to meet the more stringent crash test norms.
Not just that, they will have to now be fitted with standard safety features. This includes norms for two-wheelers too.
All cars will now come with airbags and ABS as standard fitment across variants. New cars will have to meet Bharat NCAP safety norms, which include a 64 kmph frontal offset crash test. Also all new models will be equipped with safety buzzers that sound at 80 Kmph and 120 Kmph. Commercial vehicles will be restricted to a top speed of 80 Kmph only.
Manufacturers will offer reverse parking sensors, ISOFIX child-seat restraints and seat-belt reminders as standard fitment as well. The question is, will this make a difference to the country’s appalling accident statistics?
Demand for Petrol Cars
The crackdown on vehicular emissions by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has led to a shift in norms in large markets like the Delhi-NCR region. Delhi has enforced a ban on diesel vehicles over 10 years old and petrol cars beyond 15 years of age. Registrations for new diesel vehicles are being issued for 10 years only.
This has affected the resale value of diesel vehicles, forcing buyers in the national capital to switch to petrol vehicles for longer-term ownership.
Earlier one in four cars sold was a petrol vehicle. In the past six months, one in four cars sold is diesel.
Not Many Electrics this Year
At the beginning of 2018, there was a stir in the automotive industry, with the government mandating that by 2030, all vehicles in India should be electric. However, during the year, after much lobbying and studies, the pressure was relaxed on the industry.
This happened after the government figured that a complete shift to electric vehicles by 2030 would be near impossible given the challenges electric cars face at the moment, not to mention the lack of charging infrastructure in the country.
Currently, only the Mahindra E2O, Tata Tigor EV and Mahindra Verito EV are the passenger electric cars on sale, besides that you have few electric autos and mini-trucks in the commercial segment and a handful of electric two-wheelers.
The issues still plaguing these vehicles are multi-fold – the big problem being range, charging time, top-speed and battery cost. Until this is sorted out, the country isn’t going to see many new electric vehicle launches. At least, not in 2019.
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