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Photo: HT
Photo: HT

Covid-19: Auto firms move launches online, offer test drive of cars from homes

  • Carmakers have issued travel advisories to executives to avoid all non-essential travel
  • National capital to declare spread of the virus as an epidemic, invoking provisions of the Epidemic Act

MUMBAI : Indian automakers are shifting launches of new models online while offering vehicle test drives and pick-ups for vehicle servicing from customer homes as part of steps to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Carmakers such as Hyundai Motor India Ltd, Toyota Kirloskar Motor Pvt. Ltd, Skoda Auto Volkswagen India Pvt. Ltd and Ford India as well as component suppliers have already issued travel advisories to their executives to avoid all non-essential travel.

“We have stopped all international travel until absolutely necessary. Secondly, all colleagues arriving from affected countries are told to work from home for a week," said a spokesperson for Skoda India.

Volkswagen Passenger Cars India has cancelled a physical launch of its sport-utility vehicle T-Roc and will instead do it online on 18 March. “In view of the Covid-19 outbreak and the advisories by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, and the World Health Organization to avoid large gatherings, we have decided to launch the Volkswagen T-Roc, our second SUV for 2020 through our digital platforms," the firm said in a statement, adding the decision was taken as a precautionary measure to ensure safety of all attendees.

Hyundai, which will launch the second generation of its Creta SUV model in Delhi and Mumbai on 16 March, has cancelled the Mumbai event. A company spokesperson said this was done to cut down the domestic travel of executives along with other attendees.

The Delhi launch of the Creta will see journalists enter the launch venue in batches in an attempt to avoid large gathering of people. Also, all attendees will have to undergo basic health check-ups before entering the venue. The launch will also be webcast.

Ford India has cancelled regional drive events of its popular SUV Endeavour. “Events that can lead to gathering of people are avoided," a company spokesperson said.

Toyota Kirloskar said it plans to make up for the reduced engagement with buyers at showrooms by developing its website to offer virtual tour of each of its vehicles, offering vehicle pick up and drop for servicing and tapping digital tools to share information and provide services.

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