Digitization, automation the way forward in post-Covid-19 era: Hyundai
As car makers look to hit the road running once the national lockdown is lifted in India, there are certain changes that could well define the new normal that would most likely define the times to come. And while April may have been an unprecedented month to forget where no cars were sold because of closed factories and shut showrooms, the auto industry is hoping for the best while coming out of the worst. Hyundai has appeared determined to take the challenge ahead with confidence and the company's Managing Director in India, SS Kim, has said online sales platform is likely to pave the path ahead.
In an interview to Mint, Kim said that the Covid-19 pandemic has brought about a change in how people behave and in their attitudes. It is also the same case for brands and newer outlets to reach out to customers are required. "The digitization process is expected to be in focus in the near term, especially with respect to sales and service levels. Keeping this in mind, our strategy to go digital is working for us," Kim said. "Our ‘click to buy’ portal addresses the need of new-age digital customers for purchase of new Hyundai cars.
In the first week of April, Hyundai had announced that it had integrated 500 dealerships under the 'click to buy' program which is an end-to-end online car purchase platform. It is a move that has been made by several other car makers too - from entry-level brands to luxury car makers. The essential driving force behind putting an additional focus on online sales channel is to not lose customers only because they are unwilling to come to showrooms and, therefore, promise contactless buying experience from the convenience of any preferred location. Hyundai, for instance, is using technology for not just sales but to extend a host of other features as well. "Hyundai is also offering customers its 360-digital service and contact-less service experience, through which customers can book a service appointment online through the Hyundai Care app, WhatsApp, Hyundai Website, or a call to dealers," Kim said.
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The Korean car maker, however, is not unaware of the monumental challenges that are ahead, especially after production shutdowns that have been in place for weeks. Kim has said that there would be changes to better prepare for upcoming times. "The manufacturing process and supply chains will see changes in the near-term, as companies focus on reducing dependencies. Over the past two decades, automation in manufacturing has been transforming factory floors and the nature of manufacturing employment," he said. "Today, we are on the cusp of a new automation era: Rapid advances in robotics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, which are enabling automobile manufacturers to create products that are safer and more environment friendly without compromising on performance."
With reports that Hyundai is planning to open its plant on Wednesday, it could signal a re-birth of sorts after what has been an unprecedented past few weeks. And the Korean car maker is not alone as every other car maker too would be hoping for demand to pick up even as production gradually returns to pre-Covid-19 capacities.