By Avik Chattopadhyay
Figures today are the end result of what was finished yesterday. And they have to have not be the harbinger of what will take place tomorrow. But if your quantities persist although people of others’ soar it phone calls for a pause and shut glimpse. The pandemic has strike the entire automobile sector challenging. However, considering that September there have been indications of revival, primarily by passenger autos and UVs. The quantities clearly show that the segment that carries on to be in doldrums is that of the three-wheeler.
What could be the explanation for the disappointing performance of all the makes? Has the three-wheeler segment dropped its relevance, or is it mainly because of a role modify or new choices?
The April to Oct 2020 domestic wholesale quantities of three-wheelers clearly show 78% fall above 2019. Even exports fell by 35%.
Although the drastic decline of passenger carrier three-wheelers can be discussed by the strike general public transport has taken in these months, the fall in goods carrier three-wheelers is a subject of concern. A local auto-rickshaw fleet may perhaps not expand due to lessened client demand from customers. Although the e-commerce and shipping expert services are viewing a spike due to improved shopping for behaviour, why do the ubiquitous shipping autos not see a revival in quantities?
The retail quantities much more or less mirror the wholesale in conditions of drops above 2019-20. It was not these a fantastic yr for the class as knowledge exhibits vis-à-vis 2018-19.
The crucial role of the three-wheelers
Just like the commuter two-wheeler and entry-level car or truck, the three-wheeler is one particular of the essential contributors to democratising mobility in any economy. It has historically been the “last mile” mobility option for transporting individuals and goods.
Its compact dimension, very low turning radius, the adaptability of software and frugal functioning expenses designed the 3W well known for equally the homeowners and the people. It has provided work and nurtured micro-enterprises.
When e-commerce logistics and multi-modal mobility are the buzzwords, the three-wheelers ought to see a bull-run, and any blip in product sales can only be short term. With greater penetration of all expert services, from apparel to medicines, there ought to never be a dull second for this segment.
And if the three-wheeler segment ordeals one particular of its dullest times although its role continues to be intact, has a person else appear and upset its applecart [no pun intended]?
Let us study two choices from Mahindra in the “Small Commercial Vehicle” place – the three-wheeled Alfa Plus and the 4-wheeled Jeeto S6-16.
Although Jeeto expenses much more than double the Alfa, the point I am elevating listed here is that the 4-wheeled micro CVs are feeding on into the three-wheelers. The 4-wheeled choices present greater operational stability, payloads and daily life. About the lifecycle of the automobile, it pays again for its bigger sticker selling price. Take into account the Tata Ace Zip as yet another practical solution at a much more aggressive selling price.
For passenger carriers choices like Bajaj Lovable are readily available. The brand has opened up a new segment of “quadricycle” – in essence a three-wheeler with a 4th wheel! Tata Motors has an attention-grabbing solution referred to as Magic Iris.
For any commuter making use of a Bajaj RE or TVS King, the closed Lovable or Iris is a superior solution except one particular would like to vacation in an overloaded three-wheeler. The closed automobile construction also makes it possible for for the incorporation of hygiene protocol which may perhaps develop into normal in the times to appear. Although this class is still to attain traction, the substitute that is taking the wind out of the passenger carrier three-wheeler is the electric auto-rickshaw. Not integrated in the SIAM and FADA knowledge releases, one particular does not have any thought of how this new mode of past-mile mobility has mushroomed all all around us, earning it practically like a cottage sector, with scant security standards in procedure. It has terribly impacted three-wheeler product sales with the pandemic driving a significant nail into it.
The role played by the three-wheeler in past-mile mobility is unquestioned. Just that there are choices on possibly finish of the spectrum are applying tension and questioning its quite raison d’etre.
It is up to date in the current market with environmentally friendly powertrains and emission handle with CNG and electric variations. Its light construction already tends to make it strength productive and frugal.
The Achilles heel is security. Provided the role the automobile performs in the intra and inter-town transport, its frontal and facet-influence standards have to have to be at par with that of a 4-wheeler like an Alto or i10. Far more so, as the automobile is not lined and does not present any facet defense. The electric types are in essence coffins on skateboards, with just tubes bolted on to a flooring. It is a shame that they are permitted to ply on our roads beneath the nose of CMVR, of course with vested pursuits at engage in.
As soon as the proposed Bharat New Vehicle Security Assessment Programme arrives into procedure, it ought to be certain no compromise on this front. It looks improbable that the three-wheeler will pass the crash take a look at demands, specified its inherent instability and lack of defense.
That is why Bajaj cleverly advanced the RE into the Lovable and is pushing the new class of the quadricycle. Although the automakers see it as a threat to the entry-level passenger car or truck, it is truly a actual threat to the three-wheeler. The existing three-wheeler makers have to have to wake up to the simple fact that unsafe autos simply cannot be dished out any much more, beneath whatsoever pretext of charge, obtain or adoption. They can perform toward constructing the quadricycle segment into a considerable one particular.
Our well known three-wheeler was in any case experiencing a downturn above the past one particular yr. The pandemic has dealt it a timely system blow. This is the prospect for it to be phased out, by regulation. It shall generally remain etched in our memory but have to have not remain on the roads.
(The creator is co-creator of Expereal India. Also, he is former head of advertising, solution scheduling and PR at Volkswagen India.)
(DISCLAIMER: The sights expressed are entirely of the authors and ETAuto.com does not automatically subscribe to it. ETAuto.com shall not be responsible for any hurt prompted to any particular person/organisation right or indirectly.)