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Old 26th February 2020, 19:56   #1
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Default Why are there no factory-customized cars in India?

Now a days we really have good cars in India. We BHPians really love our machines. When we put our hard earned money, we rightly want to buy something we like, something we dream for years & something of our own choice. But do we get that option? Sadly, no.

I always wonder why mass market manufacturer's don't provide basic customization options in cars? They can certainly charge extra for it and earn big profits for sure. For now we have to settle for what we get, in short we do compromise on few things. Examples are below -

1 Interior color - If someone hates beige color, why can't he get option of black? Vice versa also holds true. May be duel color option too.

2 Choice of Alloy wheels - I personally don't like duel color alloy wheels much. Why can't manufacturer have 2-3 designs ready for me and let me choose what I want?

3. Seat fabric color - Same as above, why can't we have 2-3 choices to choose from? Option for better quality will also do.

4. Choice of music system - Now most cars comes with factory fitted one, but you don't get any option to upgrade if you want as a factory fitted unit, sad. Someone putting 1.5 million also has to compromise on average music in his car, so sad.

5. Choice of steering - Round and flat bottom? May be different design with leather wrapping? Sounds interesting, right?

6. Front grill - I am sure people will really love if they get few choices here. Anyways lots of people spending money to get it done in the aftermarket.

This list can go long, i know. I guess it's time for some manufacturer to take lead and start, opportunity is there for sure.

Last edited by suhaas307 : 28th February 2020 at 11:00. Reason: Spacing for improved readability
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Old 26th February 2020, 20:14   #2
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Default re: Why are there no factory-customized cars in India?

I can not really comment on how this works in India. I am a bit surprised to hear.
Certainly in the west, most car manufactuers offer all kinds of different options.

Look at this configurator for a UK Ford Focus:

https://www.ford.gates.co.uk/car/new-focus/config/

It used to be that most would have long long list of different options. Then they started clubbing a certain number of options together in particular packages. e.g. a business edition. Usually the packages were more attractive from a pricing point of view. Both our Fiesta and our Focus have a package plus some more unique options thrown in.

What I can say is that as a general rule, the more expensive a car is, the more options are open to you.

https://www.porsche.com/uk/modelstart/

Try and configure a Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo for instance. You will be asked to choose from dozen and dozen different kinds of paint, interior, 14 different kind of wheels, etc etc.

Not sure why such choices would not be available in India. Of course, offering choice makes it more expensive and you need the logistics and the manufacturing process in place to produce unique cars against a specific customer order. Rather than crank out identical ones, with only maybe a few color differences.

The only other country that doesn’t really offer options is the USA. But there you would visit a dealer and an hour later you would drive out in your new car. They will stock a huge number of cars, colours and so on. And American cars tend to be fully loaded, the notion that something as an AC or cruise control or electric chairs might be optional, is completely lost on Americans.

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Old 26th February 2020, 20:17   #3
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Default re: Why are there no factory-customized cars in India?

A lot of manufacturers do offer additional and better equipment, in the guise of 'higher variants', which provide them with additional profitability too

Jokes aside, I do wish car manufacturers offered these options as well - especially in more niche segments.

That being said - One can argue that buying a customized mass market car (which sells over 1000 units/month) would inevitably result in delays (will not be available off the shelf); and dealers will need to select their stock & options wisely - no dealer wants to be stuck with a specced car that no one desires.

In addition, most cars come with a wide array of accessories & options supported by the manufacturer. From seat covers, to alloy wheels, to decals & chrome bits.

The only item I would really like to see added to these options are manufacturer supported ICE upgrade kits.

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Originally Posted by Jeroen View Post

The only other country that doesn’t really offer options is the USA.

Jeroen
Actually the USA does offer a fair amount of options - at least they did a few years ago when I was casually browsing websites there. That being said - most of the dealers have cars in stock with varying levels of spec - and if the car you desire is in the stockyard, you can get a brilliant deal most of the time.

Last edited by suhaas307 : 28th February 2020 at 11:00. Reason: Spacing
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Old 26th February 2020, 21:16   #4
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Default re: Why are there no factory-customized cars in India?

Customization costs the manufacturer money as it disturbs the supply chain. India offers customization in variants and color, but within each variant, everything remains the same. Imagine the amount of changes the supply chain would have to do to account for upholstery, trim, comfort/convenience packages, safety features and so on. And these numbers would be in double, maybe three digits.

Every instance where the components on the supply chain have to be changed, it costs time and money. When cars are churned out in a matter of hours, this time lost will add up real quick. So, no manufacturers want to take that risk. This is in an extremely cost-sensitive country.

And consumers don't ask for customization because most don't know it can be done. I don't think we've matured as a market to that extent. We're catching up fast, but the world might just move on to EVs by the time we're fully in sync with the western world.
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Old 26th February 2020, 21:22   #5
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Default re: Why are there no factory-customized cars in India?

As a supply chain student what I have understood is that customization comes at cost is loss of responsiveness to customer demands and lack of volume. Hence I feel that in a country like India due fierce price war and tight profit margins (and obviously sales targets/volume targets etc etc) they have refrained from bringing in customization. Maybe they should follow order postponment strategy for customizable products wherein they assemble the car using standard parts and charge more time and money for it.

Eg: During initial days Dell initiated assembly of customized product only upon receiving order confirmation and full payment in advance. Then they used to take week 10 days to deliver the customized product to customer.
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Old 26th February 2020, 21:31   #6
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Default re: Why are there no factory-customized cars in India?

A few weeks back I was reading through some articles about how everyone is shifting towards modular architectures in automobiles. That made me wonder, why can't we be offered only a single striped-down base model with liberty to choose our own options? We can find plenty of examples in our forum here where one needs all features of a top-end minus the thin side-walled tyres (read earlier in Crysta/EcoSport threads) or a digital console (my personal to the latest Civic/CRV). One may tick the absolute necessities and save money that way. For example, one may need 6 airbags and be able to afford only that as an option, but bundle that with a sunroof and 17 inch alloys which may not be needed, and the price shoots up beyond the planned budget. Although I do agree that manufacturing processes and supply chain have to be very streamlined for this to be cost-effective compared to the arrangement we have today.
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Old 26th February 2020, 23:01   #7
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Default re: Why are there no factory-customized cars in India?

Quote:
Originally Posted by lamborghini View Post
Actually the USA does offer a fair amount of options - at least they did a few years ago when I was casually browsing websites there. That being said - most of the dealers have cars in stock with varying levels of spec - and if the car you desire is in the stockyard, you can get a brilliant deal most of the time.
They do, but hardly nobody is interested. Everybody wants their car immediately.
Here in Europe almost every car is unique and ordered against a customer specific order. The downside, delivery times 10-16 weeks on most cars, sometimes even longer
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Old 27th February 2020, 04:51   #8
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Default re: Why are there no factory-customized cars in India?

I remember during earlier days VW used to offer seat colour selection for the Jetta (the first gen in India). But later they (like most of the other manufacturers) went with the popular choice of beige. I believe still brands like Mercedes and BMW offer interior seat colors/trim choices, though very limited.
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Old 27th February 2020, 06:12   #9
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Default re: Why are there no factory-customized cars in India?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeroen View Post
They do, but hardly nobody is interested. Everybody wants their car immediately.
Here in Europe almost every car is unique and ordered against a customer specific order. The downside, delivery times 10-16 weeks on most cars, sometimes even longer
Jeoen
True that! You can place a custom order at most dealers. One issue is the delay in delivery, the second is the deep discount on cars that are in the lot. I have seen a Corolla sold for $9999 when Msrp was close to $19k. That is half the price on a new prior model year car. Especially in a city like Los Angeles with crazy volumes, the discounts are pretty steep. Dealers take pride in letting you drive away in under one hour of walking in.

At these discounts people one can customize to their hearts content at aftermarket shops.
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Old 27th February 2020, 09:44   #10
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Default Re: Why are there no factory-customized cars in India?

Couple of points, to add to what has been posted above:

- Indian car manufacturers are terribly lazy. Forget customisation, we don't even see interesting colour options like metallic greens. On most cars, it is the standard palette of 5 - 6 colours.

- No one asked for customisation. Other than the 30 enthusiasts who will post on this thread, no one else complains. The mass market is happy leaving the variant planning to the manufacturer. I have to admit that I am too; the top variants are pretty well planned & I rarely have wanted something different.

- It's a myth that cars in developed countries are highly customised. I spent a lot of time in the USA and can speak from experience. When Americans walk into a car dealer, they want the delivery TODAY. They'll check the dealer's inventory to see something they like and drive out with the car. Sure, you can customise cars in the USA, but the delivery time can then run up to 3 - 6 months (again, only enthusiasts opt for that). 99.99% of Americans buy what is readily available at the dealer.
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Old 27th February 2020, 09:57   #11
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Default Re: Why are there no factory-customized cars in India?

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post

- No one asked for customisation. Other than the 30 enthusiasts who will post on this thread, no one else complains. The mass market is happy leaving the variant planning to the manufacturer. I have to admit that I am too; the top variants are pretty well planned & I rarely have wanted something different.
Even now, a lot of customization is done by the dealers, especially for the lower variants. If the manufacturers step in and offer something similar, and with warranty for the installed components, there might be many takers for that. One potential downside is that such a move would increase the sales of lower variants.

Last edited by suhaas307 : 28th February 2020 at 11:01. Reason: Spacing
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Old 28th February 2020, 10:59   #12
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Default Re: Why are there no factory-customized cars in India?

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Originally Posted by aniketi View Post
I always wonder why mass market manufacturer's don't provide basic customization options in cars? They can certainly charge extra for it and earn big profits for sure.
By saying mass market, I believe you are targeting cars under 15 Lakh rupees. Otherwise, visit Mini India page : https://www.mini.in/en_IN/home/mini-...Features=S0205

Link above is the cheapest Mini @30L. You'll observe, they offer all variations for the car - here in India. What you'll be surprised to see is, color option on car costs 70K or more. As if they're gonna sell car with just primer on - if you don't "choose" the color. How costly would it be to paint a car in different color? And if that's the case, I'd prefer my own RGB palette.

You see, probably because most Indians are VFM sensitive, like me, and companies know that. That's the reason I believe companies don't offer such variations. They simply offer variants.
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Old 28th February 2020, 12:53   #13
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Default Re: Why are there no factory-customized cars in India?

I think the main reasons why customization options are not offered are:
- Higher Cost. Entire Sales, Manufacturing & Testing and Service ecosystem will have to support numerous sub-variants. It may end up being unique car for every customer + long lead time to deliver the car. e.g. if someone buying base/mid variant wants to add ICE from top variant, it may not be just a plug and play.
- Low Demand. Most consumers will be happy with variants which are easy to comprehend and just purchase whatever is available off-the-shelf.
- Complex/Confusing Configuration & Pricing.

If there are too many customization options then manufacturers will distribute the higher cost to all the consumers even if majority will be opt for available variants.

On a lighter note, in India we already have too many preferences within family when it comes to car buying. Can't imagine a situation where I prefer black interiors, wife preferring beige and the manufacturer offering both options! We both will end up spending lot of time convincing each other
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Old 28th February 2020, 14:38   #14
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Default Re: Why are there no factory-customized cars in India?

While our market leader MSIL offers 'accessory packs', they are typically cheap pieces of trim or options to upgrade from a VXi at a dealer

Important stuff like interior colour choices and more so, alloy wheel design choices are ever so elusive in India! I doubt even premium cars offer the customisation options a budget hatch gets in Europe
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Old 28th February 2020, 15:02   #15
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Default Re: Why are there no factory-customized cars in India?

Just to clarify that offering customization is one thing and actually making the customizable options easily accessible is another

From my buying experience of Audi S3 in Dubai, while i could configure the car any way i wanted (even the number of airbags), the only configuration readily available was the one dealer was customizing and ordering from Audi. Even the slightest modification would push back the waiting time from 2 weeks to 6 months

My point being, customization / options to customization are more of customer engagement tools then being customer friendly. In India, you can either expect it from a niche manufacturer making fat profits to account for your customization or someone like Maruti who can apply it on their mass market vehicles, produce the various customized options in bulk and keep them in big inventory clusters to move the units as demand comes in. Everyone else will face ageing inventory issues - Remember LML Freedom that launched in 92463 colors?
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