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The gloom of COVID-19 forced the automobile industry to take a sharp right towards online car bookings to keep their engines running. Here are the brands doing it.

The last quarter of an already gloomy year has been the greatest slump the automobile industry has seen in the last decade. Every department of companies stands affected: Research and development, production, post-purchase services, and most importantly, dealerships. With the country entering its fourth month of lockdown, automakers have turned to digital solutions to boost sales and services amidst stringent fiscal guidelines.

Luxury and premium car manufacturers have either developed new apps or extended their online store to allow bookings of new cars. Apart from shelving the entire experience online, they’ve provided a secure payment gateway too. This way, in no time, your new car can be delivered to you post the lockdown. Even after the virus passes, this digital revolution in the industry of online car bookings and e-services might turn into an independent channel for bookings. But until then, it’s the only channel that can stream sales for the brand.

MG India

The most recent instalment in this list is MG. Once you create your MG account and book your car, the app lets you track your car right from the production house to your doorstep. The app is also your gateway to post-purchase services.

Mahindra

Mahindra’s Own-Online app is a complete checklist of what you need while buying a new car. With a direct plug from Mahindra Finance, you can also select your preferred insurance on the app. Apart from this, customisation seems to have a longer chord here.

Audi

As one of the few luxury carmakers taking up this initiative, Audi has extended its entire fleet of luxe German sedans and SUVs onto their Audi Shop website and app. As standard procedure, you create an Audi account, book a car, locate a dealership, have a customer care agent assigned to help you with customisation and payment, and finally, have it delivered to you.

Volvo

What’s unique about Volvo’s service is that it’s almost entirely assisted by a personal agent. Sparing you the technical trouble, all you’ll need to do is select a car and preferred time and date for a quick chat with an agent. After doing that on the website, a Volvo agent from your closest dealership will assist you.

Jeep

Jeep’s online car bookings feature is pretty straight to the point. With the Jeep Compass, Wrangler, Grand Cherokee, and Grand Cherokee SRT up for grabs, you might need to be a bit particular about which engine variant you select. Next, use a credit card or net banking to finance your purchase and you’ll have a car delivered soon.

Honda

The ‘Honda From Home’ service doesn’t put every model on its digital showcase but definitely the crowd favourites. Amaze, City, Civic and CR-V, the WR-V cross-hatch, and the Jazz are the options available. The service focuses more on engine specification than interiors though.

Volkswagen

Volvo had big plans for 2020 and even bigger launches. For now, their digital sales platform is doing the job for them. The entire process is assisted by a sales representative. The carmaker has said that sanitisation measures will also be in place.

BMW 

As the first automaker who introduce this facility worldwide, BMW’s contactless experience perfectly brought the entire boutique sales experience onto a digital platform. It’s exclusive but offers every customisation feature on a BMW.

Mercedes

The ‘Merc From Home’ was a clever take on Work From Home. They introduced their service as an online platform for used Mercedes cars but later offered this service to brand new cars as well.

Tata Motors

The Tata ‘Click to Drive’ service is super convenient and has the entire Tata fleet open for purchase. You can have the complete booking service done over a simple Whatsapp Video Call or Skype call. Right from selecting a car, financing it, and having it delivered.

Ford

The ‘Dial a Ford’ is the most convenient service on this list. It’s all it takes, you dial them and have the entire process done right there and there.

ŠKODA Auto

One of the first brands to introduce online car bookings service, ŠKODA’s service is assisted by customer care agents from dealerships. They have an entire line-up of Czech cars on sale.

All images: Courtesy brands

Mikhail Gomes
Senior Features Writer
A watch aficionado, Gomes also enjoys learning about fine whiskies, and one day hopes to establish his own menswear label. At Lifestyle Asia India, he writes on watches, menswear, auto and tech.