Will there be takers for Renault’s Lodgy?
From Modak (Rajasthan) comes the news that an owner of Renault Duster donated his car to the municipal garbage collection service. With rear seats and fittings removed, and an already non-functioning air-conditioner, the harassed owner decided to do the honourable thing—provide a service to society—as well as get a message across. Decades ago, the owners of Nirula’s (Delhi) had done something similar with a couple of Standard 2000 cars that they had bought; they placed posters on them and offered them up for grabs. Standard Motors wound up soon thereafter.
All this came to the fore on social media the day that Renault Lodgy, a people-carrier which is set to go head-to-head with Toyota Innova, Nissan Evalia and similar vehicles, was launched. Renault, whose progress in India for the past few years has been dodgy at best, has had to scale down, and temporarily stop, production of their cars.
One reason is the poor after-sales and service. The other, more visibly relevant, reason is that two manufacturers, Nissan and Renault, are selling the same vehicles in India. People are not that stupid, that they will pay a premium for one over the other, just because it has a French, or European, badge.
From Agra (Uttar Pradesh) comes the news that the owners of 15-year-old and older motor vehicles will not be able to re-register them after the 15-year period is over. While here, in Delhi, taking an over 15-year-old car or bike out is increasingly dangerous, as it can be ‘seized’ by pretty much all and sundry. This misguided effort to try to reduce pollution, by preventing even well-maintained old vehicles coming on our roads, while doing nothing about fuel quality, road engineering and driving conditions, is yet another example of how the tail (automobile industry) wags the dog (government) while people stand and suffer.
Luckily, this will not translate into increased sales of new cars and bikes in a big way because there is a huge number of unused cars and bikes in the less-than 15-year-old inventory, waiting to be revived and re-used. Prices for such vehicles, especially those which are 8-15-year-old, are close to scrap value and, now, with easy availability of spare parts and technology to rejuvenate them, expect much cheaper good condition used cars and bikes on our roads.
Something similar to this is said to be happening in Brazil, where sales of new motor vehicles are expected to be down by 10% over last year’s figures, as the revival market catches up there too. Buy a 10-year-old car or bike for scrap value, as long as the documents and title are clear and see how little it costs now to bring them back to specs. And if it doesn’t work, then cut it up and use the parts as furniture, or even decoration pieces. Sofa sets cost so much lately!
More than one person I know has bought a new car registered as a commercial taxi, and made a profit-sharing deal with the driver. The purchase and permit process is complicated, but an agent will walk you through it, while the driver will need to convert his licence to a public transport commercial vehicle licence. For a Toyota Camry, one person I know is sharing Rs60,000 a month with his driver after all expenses, and despite runing in the Delhi region. The car will become, by all calculations, ‘free’ in about 42 months. I have been wanting to do this for a long time now. One small private car for personal use, one large car registered as a taxi for shared use. Do the maths, and let me know if you have any questions?
(Veeresh Malik started and sold a couple of companies, is now back to his first love—writing. He is also involved in helping small and midsize family-run businesses re-invent themselves.