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COVID-19 and Slowdown Struck Indian Automobile Industry Looks Forward to 2021 with Optimism

New cars are seen lined up next to the dock as the global outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, at the Port of Los Angeles, California. (Image: Reuters)

New cars are seen lined up next to the dock as the global outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, at the Port of Los Angeles, California. (Image: Reuters)

Already battered by an unprecedented slowdown before the coronavirus pandemic, the resilience of the Indian auto industry was tested severely when the nationwide lockdown was announced.

Having endured and managed to recover from the disruptions induced by a once-in-a-century event, the Indian auto sector is cautiously looking forward to 2021 with hopes of putting up a better show in the post-COVID-19 world, although a lot will hinge on how the economy grows. Already battered by an unprecedented slowdown before the coronavirus pandemic, the resilience of the Indian auto industry was tested severely when the nationwide lockdown was announced towards March-end.

Passenger vehicle sales in India, the barometer of the automobile industry's performance, plunged 78.43 per cent in the April-June period this year hit by the pandemic, declining for the ninth straight quarter and making it the longest slowdown in 20 years. It is estimated that during the prolonged lockdown, the auto industry suffered losses of more than Rs 2,300 crore in turnover for every single day of closure.

In order to overcome the unprecedented challenge, the auto industry players embraced digitisation to adapt to the new normal to serve customers while learning to be nimble footed to keep factories running under COVID-19 SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) and concentrating on financial health by reducing costs and generating free cash flows. The pandemic-induced lockdown also had an impact on the country's transition to BS-VI emission norm from April 1.

Reflecting on the impact of the global health crisis on the sector, the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) Director General Rajesh Menon told .