How Covid-19's second wave disrupted Indian automobile industry again

Soon after the auto industry hinted at signs of revival as the overall sales showed a positive trend in the last few months, the second wave of Covid-19 has struck the industry hard. Though the pandemic is causing disruption and economic hardship around the globe, damage done to India's automotive ecosystem is also very severe. The gloomy clouds of the novel coronavirus have forced the automakers to pause operations yet again, knowing that the road to recovery might be even harder this time.

Representational Image: Renault employees wearing protective masks against the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. (AFP)
Representational Image: Renault employees wearing protective masks against the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.

Only recently, India's largest two-wheeler maker - Hero MotoCorp announced that it has decided to pause operations at all its plants in the country 'in view of the ongoing escalation in the spread of Covid-19.' Though Hero added that the action 'will not impact the company’s ability', it also mentioned that the overall demand itself 'has been impacted' due to the localised shut-downs in many Indian states.

Meanwhile, other automakers have delayed or even cancelled their product plans which were otherwise set for the first quarter of FY21. Skoda India has put off the launch of the much-awaited 2021 Octavia sedan which was slated to go on sale this month. The company cited the rising number of Covid-19 cases across the country and the worsening crisis as the reason for the delay.

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Zac Hollis, Director of Skoda Auto India, recently took to Twitter to confirm the information. He wrote, "Sometimes, it’s important to take a pause and come back stronger. We at Skoda Auto have postponed the launch of the all-new Octavia until the current situation improves. We will keep you updated on the launch developments. Stay safe and let us do our part to fight this virus."

While India's capital is completely locked down currently, states such as Maharastra and Karnataka have implemented strict restrictions and guidelines to curb the spread of Covid-19. Tata Motors' Ranjangaon's plant is operating at a 'limited capacity'. The homegrown automaker said in a recent press note, "it is running operations at its Pune plant in strict compliance with the guidelines mentioned in the ‘Break the Chain’ order of the Maharashtra government."

Toyota Kirloskar Motor has also announced a pause in operations at its Karnataka plant but makes no reference to restrictions in place in Karnataka to check rise in Covid-19 cases. Instead, it states that the pause is to carry out annual maintenance work, while adding that supplies will be hit. (Read more here)

First Published Date: 22 Apr 2021, 19:11 PM IST
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