Congratulations, and we welcome your decision of buying a new car. It is always a special and cherishing experience to drive your first car, and we hope you thoroughly enjoy it! There is an adventurous world waiting for you full of national highways, state highways, expressways, curling country roads, ghats and also traffic jams, bumpy nonexistent city roads, water logged by-lanes, cramped parking spaces and not to forget the monsoon, smog and scorching tropical heat. Driving can be a lot of fun or seriously tedious not only depending upon the prevalent conditions but also on the vehicle you choose. And selecting the right vehicle is not only the most critical part of your automotive journey, but also the most difficult one. But, once you get the right vehicle to suit your endeavors, you can certainly enjoy this journey.
So, hoping that you agree on importance of selecting the right vehicle, let us look at the various factors that need to be considered. There are a few basics like the budget and looks that everyone considers; however there are few others that need to be carefully analysed. It is certainly not rocket science and once you are aware of all the points, we are sure you will hardly require any further assistance. Big hatchback or small sedan? Petrol car or diesel? (Right now there’s only one answer to that one, eh?) Cash payment or loan? What is a difference between an SUV and an MUV? Do I need 4×4? These are a few questions that most of the first time buyers ask, and we intend to solve of these and few more that most of us never realise, in the coming weeks.
Covering all the aspects in detail will require some time, so let us begin with a brief overview of all the areas. But, before we begin, note that if you are planning to buy a car in this month (December), you will certainly get lot of discounts, but you will lose out on resale value, as by January 2012, your new vehicle will already be 2011 manufactured and considered one year old. (That tells us that discounts and resale value are two important factors).
This needs to be finalised first. After this, all the other questions can be considered. The bigger the budget, the more options, opportunities and unfortunately questions to ponder.
Ex-showroom and on-road prices:
Once you have finalised the budget and visited showrooms, you will notice that either the advertisements or the showroom guys are lying to you, as both give completely different prices and make your budget go haywire. Ex-showroom prices and actual prices of cars on road differ depending upon segment, model, accessories, state, city, loan amount etc. Basically, when you see an advertisement (print, TV or any other type), remember that by the time you get the car keys, it will cost you least 10-15 per cent more than the advertised price.
Type of car:
This bit is rather tricky and equally vital. There are small cars, hatchbacks, sedans, MUVs, station wagons, SUVs, vans with many features overlapping creating few more segments. (So, if you can’t wait till the next feature, just buy a small car!)
This is the area where no one should compromise. Airbags, ABS, EBD are not installed to jack up prices; they certainly make your car a lot safer. In case you are planning to buy an entry-level car in certain segment due to budget constraints, please consider a top-end model from a segment lower with the above features. Then there are crash guards, tyres, parking sensors / cameras, child locks, engine immobilisers, gear locks and few others to choose from.
A general rule is that the amount of discount is inversely proportional to the popularity of the vehicle. Also there is possibility that the model is being phased out, or it is the end of the calendar year, or in the current scenario it is simply a petrol car. However, we all love discounts and there is always some margin for negotiation with dealer and if not discounts, free accessories work equally well.
We live in a country with strong belief in good luck, lucky days and attach lot of importance to the delivery date. So, please confirm the availability with the dealer at the time of booking. If the vehicle is readily available no worries, however if a future delivery date is confirmed then please keep a margin for delays – we’ve all experience ‘Indian standard time’ at some point in our lives. We are also strongly against paying a premium for an early delivery from a multi-brand dealer as it is unethical and gives many an opportunity to create artificial scarcity.
Petrol or diesel:
Let us keep it very simple, if the average running of your vehicle is less than 70km per day or 25,000km a year buy a petrol. We will further evalute this in coming weeks, but in simple words, diesel cars are more expensive then petrol and there are almost no discounts, so unless you recover it in two years, it is not worth investing the extra money in them.
Every car needs regular maintenance and servicing and it is always advisable to visit the company's authorised service centre even post warranty period. So always confirm that a service centre is within reach. Ask about annual maintenance contracts; these can be used as one of the ‘accessories’ in lieu of a discount.
Some cars get better resale value then others and it depends not only upon the condition of the vehicle but also on the brand. A few companies have more goodwill with the general public, their spares may be cheaper, the products may have very good quality or they simply might have a premium badge. So, in case you plan to sell your car within a short span – two to three years, then resale value becomes very important. Also if possible wait till January and for further details as it won't be advisable to buy right now, for the reasons mentioned earlier.
If above pointers have not scared you and you are still looking forward to buying a car, then watch this space for more updates as we dissect and analyse each factor in detail, in the coming weeks.