1. With the industry starting to feel a shift in thought from upfront cost to total cost of ownership of a vehicle – how will this change the game play for premium players?
• This shift is not new, not something that is happening now, this has actually been the case for some time now.
• For example, if you analyse any large fleet operator you will realise that these companies always looked at total cost of ownership. They have their own estimates in place as to the useful life of the vehicle as part of their fleet and how much load will it carry during its lifetime. They estimate as to how they will recover their costs through the life of the vehicle so that they can dispose it off at the end of its useful life and then replace it with another new vehicle.
• In such a scenario, any player, be it even a premium player needs to come up with a customer value proposition (CVP) for the customer. Having a robust CVP is the key as age old sales tactics of my product being better than yours are over and now every player needs to clearly define as to what are the key customer applications for their products and how is their product going to help serve the needs of those specific customer applications.
2. With the brand lines (product ranges) going deeper and deeper to satisfy the differing needs of consumers, how does this impact the business model from a cost perspective?
• In today’s markets, CV players are not only catering to the customer’s application needs but are being forced to further deep dive within those particular product applications due to varying customer needs.
• Which product range should be picked up and pushed in the future versus which one should be dropped are some key questions that players need to answer. It necessitates that the OEM’s look and relook at their business plan both in the short and the long term. And any small change in their business plan can have a huge cost impact.
• For example, answering questions such as should I upgrade an existing 35 tonner in my product range or launch a completely new product in its place are matters which the OEM’s need to deal with on a regular basis.
3. What innovative process engineering techniques should be followed to keep a check on cost as well as the meeting the desires of consumers (i.e. more and more variety)?
• Given my experience I can best answer this from a sales and marketing perspective and not from manufacturing perspective.
• Costs need to be kept in check by the vehicle manufacturing OEMs even at the dealer level. For OEMs to reach mass market or even the premium segment requires having an extensive dealer network in place. However, establishing a dealer facility can be an expensive proposition given high real estate cost in India. Industry is slowly evolving from having large dealerships in place to having dealerships which take up lesser space and are highly modular in nature. This results in lesser initial investment and provision for scale-up as business grows. Use of digital tools and initiatives is helping provide customers with the whole touch and feel experience in such smaller dealerships.
• Similarly, in case of after sales/services, players are looking at innovative processes to serve customer needs. For example, provision of mobile repair services to minimize breakdown losses without obviously comprising on the quality of care and service to be offered. This is extremely important, as potentially a vehicle could be carrying perishable goods wherein breakdown loss is not an option. In such a case the diagnostic needs to be quick and perfect and the repairs need to be spot on.
• Also, in case of spare parts, no repair facility can have 100% of the spare parts in store. What is important in such a case are efficient logistics. If a truck breakdowns and a spare part is required, then how can the spare part reach the repair facility in the least amount of time. You need to have an efficient spare parts supply chain in place to take care of such issues.
4. How is digital impacting the commercial vehicle industry? Is there anuber like disruption waiting to happen in CV industry? How will it impact the CV players?
• I don’t think that such a disruption will take place anytime soon. The industry has not matured to a stage wherein such a disruption can take place. Maybe this happens in the future but not at this point in time.
• Customers have still not warmed up to the use of new innovations such as telematics, Fleet Management portals etc.
5. How important is after market in the overall game play, especially in a country like India? Should this be one of the critical pieces to be answered/assessed while the product is still on the drawing board?
• Yes, it absolutely is. Before a new product is launched in the market it is imperative that a player answer questions such as which customer application should I cater to; how can I best serve the service needsof this product segment etc.
• For example, a mining tipper is not going to get used on a highway. In such a case the player in this segment needs to have in place a clear strategy as to how they will go about serving the breakdown, preventive maintenance and spare parts needs of such a product in remote/difficult terrains of India.
Join us at India’s leading Commercial Vehicle platform: Commercial Vehicle Forum 2016 (http://cvforum.in/) on 24th November 2016 at The Westin - Chennai where more of such trends will be discussed by leading brands & experts.