By Puja Gupta
New Delhi, Jun 25 (IANSlife): Automaker MG Motor India is expanding its retail footprint by proactively foraying into Tier-2 and Tier-3 markets, in addition to its established operational bases, because of the strong demand, informs Gaurav Gupta, CCO of MG Motor India.
He adds: "By the end of this year, we aim to expand to 250+ locations in 140+ cities across the nation."
IANSlife spoke to Gupta to get details on business strategy, the brands journey so far and the various initiatives undertaken under its CSR activity.
Q: How has been MG's journey so far in India?
A: In the past three years of operations, MG has done exceptionally well by every benchmark. Our first product, MG Hector -- India's first internet SUV, was received with a lot of fanfare in India. It still continues to maintain one of the highest resale values within its segment.
Following Hector's launch in 2019, we had to stop accepting new bookings for a while due to the high order volume. Community and diversity being our core brand values, we launched the 'Worth Waiting For' campaign to support girl child education. As a part of the campaign, our customers received 1,000 points for every additional week that they had to wait for MG Hector. These points could either be redeemed for accessories or maintenance packages at our dealerships or support girl child education. The campaign was well-received and received a lot of praise from our customers.
As Hector sales continued to increase, we launched MG ZS EV in early 2020. ZS EV can be called a major milestone in India's automobile industry. The electric vehicle offers the perfect confluence of affordability, range, performance, and features. Owing to our customer-centric approach, we have been able to retail 2,042 units of ZS EV till May 2021 despite lockdowns and market hiccups.
In late 2020, we further introduced India's first autonomous (Level 1) premium SUV, MG Gloster. It has received good traction, which is also the case with our MG Hector 2021 and MG ZS EV 2021. Overall, we have had a very pleasant journey so far.
Q: What are your future plans for the Indian market?
A: At present, we are expanding our retail footprint by proactively foraying into Tier-2 and Tier-3 markets, in addition to our established operational bases, because of the strong demand. The regions house tech-savvy Indians who want to avail state-of-the-art products and services.
By the end of this year, we aim to expand to 250+ locations in 140+ cities across the nation. On the EV charging front, we have partnered with Tata Power and Fortum. With the expansion of ZS EV sales footprint to 31 cities, we will further augment the fast-charging network. The target is to have 60 DC chargers in 55 cities by year-end.
Q: What is MG SEWA?
A: MG SEWA is an umbrella platform to serve immediate communities around our operational bases. Since 2019, we have supported several relief measures via MG SEWA, especially across three fronts, i.e. girl child education, upskilling underprivileged women, and women empowerment in general. Some of our key initiatives include Covid-19-related support, skill development course for engineering students with 'MG Dakshata', our skill development program for underprivileged women 'Prerna', and donation of essential kits to deprived communities.
Through our partnership with IIMPACT NGO, we are also currently sponsoring quality primary education for over 1,477 girls across remote villages. Similar initiatives are live with Udayan Care and Save the Children foundation as well. MG SEWA has also spread awareness on road safety across schools and nurtured over 100 start-ups in the auto-tech space.
Some of MG SEWA's other key initiatives include Drive Her Back -- enabling women to return to the workplace with dignity and pride, Changemakers -- honouring women entrepreneurs doing exceptional work, and Womentorship -- empowering social women entrepreneurs across communities.
During Covid-19 crisis, we had launched MG Healthline for its customers seeking medical assistance. Recently, we also converted our Hector Plus into Covid-19 mobile testing unit. The vehicle will be used as Dhanvantari Rath for Covid-19 vaccination, testing and other mobile healthcare services in Gujarat.
Q: What initiatives did MG SEWA take during the pandemic?
A: Ever since the pandemic broke, MG SEWA has remained at the forefront of community service. Given the inherent dynamism of Covid-19, we addressed wide-ranging problems as and when they emerged, including amplifying medical oxygen production, strengthening indigenous ventilator manufacturing, development and donation of Hector Ambulances, extending relief supplies and sanitization, sanitizing vehicles of police personnel and elderly people, as well as distributing masks and hygiene kits and food items.
In April 2021, we had joined hands with Devnandan Gases Pvt. Ltd. in Gujarat and supported in increasing the oxygen production by 36 per cent at one of the latter's plants in Vadodara within a month. MG has further offered 200 beds for Covid-19 patients in Gurugram with an online healthcare platform, Credihealth, while also raising funds for and distributing biodegradable bedsheets to the affected in Pune.
We also gave a special emphasis to the e-learning of underprivileged children to minimise the digital divide. Recently, we have also launched an initiative to sponsor the academic fees of young survivors whose parents lost the battle against Covid-19.
Q: Pandemic has fast-tracked the digital transformation across industries. How has MG flared when it comes to digital retail of vehicles?
A: At MG, we have always maintained a digital edge in the market. In fact, MG was the industry pioneer to process the digital booking of vehicles. In 2020, we further introduced the 'Disinfect & Deliver' program, wherein we became one of the first automakers in India to deliver vehicles at the doorstep of our customers. In other words, we helped the industry to transition into an end-to-end e-commerce model.
At the same time, we also developed a dedicated suite to ramp up the digital experience at our dealerships. While maintaining the highest standards of hygiene, we also integrated solutions such as MG Vphy, a voice-guided demonstration of MG vehicles.
Q: How are the MG sales since the dealerships were shut during the lockdown? What was the result online as against offline during 2020?
A: We maintain a seamless omnichannel experience online as well as offline with an industry-leading Car Configurator and Adobe Marketing Suite of Products. We are currently receiving 50 per cent of our queries digitally via Facebook, Instagram, Google, and YouTube.
Q: What has been your marketing strategy in the Covid world?
A: We strongly believe in our brand ethos, which has community at the heart of it. This community includes our employees, suppliers, dealer partners, and their staff as well as our customers, their families, people living around MG's operational bases, auto-enthusiasts, and everyone else. We will continue to do everything in our capacity to serve the needs of this community.
Q: Can you share the innovations that MG brought to the Indian automotive space?
A: Leading the front with our innovation-driven approach, we have introduced several 'firsts' in the Indian automobile industry. They include India's first internet SUV, MG Hector, which comes loaded with more than 70 connected features, India's first pure electric internet SUV, MG ZS EV, and India's first autonomous (Level 1) premium SUV.
The current social and ecological trends have encouraged us to develop cars with an immersive customer experience using high-end technology. We have MG Hector aimed at redefining the role of vehicles by adding a human element to them. It is a true example of India's growing connected car ecosystem. With ZS EV, we have focussed on the demand for electric vehicles among people amid rising climate change concerns. Recent events such as the pandemic, incidents of wildfire, and stories of melting glaciers have added to the development.
MG has also stepped into familiarising automobile enthusiasts with the new era of innovation. Our MG Gloster is much beyond internet cars. It is equipped with ADAS technology, which is the first step towards autonomous vehicles.
At MG, we are not only unleashing tech innovation ourselves. We are also building an ecosystem to catalyze such developments.