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Old 8th June 2021, 10:50   #1
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Default Confusions of an NRI for car ownership in India

Hello Bhpians,

We are a family of five living in the Middle East since 20+ years. Our visits to India are usually twice a year ranging from 10 days to 2 months in each visit.

Till 2020, we never felt the need of a personal vehicle in India owing to the relatively efficient public transport system, cabs and self-drive car rentals. With the onset of Covid, we felt insecure to use the public transport. Therefore started the hunt for a car with budget of 8 Lakhs which in turn increased with time.

After long discussions, we took the plunge and bought a 16k KMS run 2019 Vento TDI HL+ for 11 Lakhs in September 2020. All thanks to some family functions, we spent quite a significant time in India and finally returned to Gulf in April 2021. The vehicle clocked about 12k KMS in this time frame.

Confusions of an NRI for car ownership in India-img_20200917_184034.jpg

Now that the vehicle is not being used at all since two months and just getting its value depreciated, I was thinking of any other solutions applicable in our case. TBH, I am simply worried of the depreciation. On an average, we can expect the vehicle to be used just for a month or two in a complete year and won't be touched otherwise.

Here are some thoughts which are crossing my mind. Kindly guide me with the best possible solution.

Our requirements are a fuel efficient automatic (TC or DCT only) preferably with a boot. We personally avoid Korean models. Vehicle Breakdowns are the last thing a holidaymaker wants, therefore must be highly reliable.

1- How about selling this vehicle and getting something of similar (or better) specs in about 4-5 Lakhs which doesn't depreciate much?
Ex: 8th gen Accord, 6th gen camry
Pros:
  • Relatively negligible depreciation.
Cons:
  • Difficult to find well maintained examples.
  • Not much fuel efficient models available.

2- How about subscribing a car for the entire duration of our vacation from self drive car rentals?
Pros:
  • Must be cheaper in the long run.
  • Multiple options of cars.
Cons:
  • Usually not so well maintained.

3- Considering the fact that all vehicles are depreciating assets, why not keep the car as long as possible by accepting the fate of depreciation?
Pros:
  • Will be available at all times.
Cons:
  • Will lose a lot in depreciation. Have to use for long to extract the most out of it.
  • DQ200 haunts me.
  • Reliability concerns considering the vehicle will be not even touched for (maybe) 200+ days.

In general, what will be the best possible car ownership options for NRIs in India?
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Old 8th June 2021, 11:09   #2
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Default re: Confusions of an NRI for car ownership in India

I don't think any vehicle if not used for such a long period will serve you well. I would not be worried about the depreciation, I would be more worried about vehicle breakup in your case. You will be better off using a Zoomcar or any such service.
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Old 8th June 2021, 11:24   #3
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Default re: Confusions of an NRI for car ownership in India

Rental car would work best both wrt maintainance and also depreciation.

The only bummer is that they may not be well maintained. However, knowing someone in zoomcar/any other rental offices may help as you would be renting for a longer term and they may help get a good car. But its all YMMV space .
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Old 8th June 2021, 11:38   #4
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Default re: Confusions of an NRI for car ownership in India

I am almost in same situation. I live abroad, but I cannot compromise on a car when I am in India. Given we visit once or twice a year and vacations are short ones with families and friends spread almost all over Kerala, its highly necessary for me to have a car when I am there to be as efficient as I can when it comes to travelling.

I originally wanted to buy Ford EcoSport a few years ago, but the money on it would just be dead.
Instead, I opted for another favorite of mine. A used, 2009, 1.1 Wagon R that I paid less than 2 lakhs back in the days. Its now been a few years and It’s such a nice car to drive and take around. It costs very nominal amount to maintain and even if you don't use for many months, there isn't anything further to depreciate.

So, my advice based on my personal situation would be to have a cheaper car if you really need a car when ever you are in India and if you worry about depreciation.

Rentals are possible, but I had tough times with rentals in the past where I had cars which were not clean etc. Sometimes it’s also difficult to get hold of good rental cars/deals/agents in where my native is.
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Old 8th June 2021, 11:50   #5
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Default re: Confusions of an NRI for car ownership in India

Subscribing from a self-drive rental seems to be the best bet for me in this case. If in the same situation, I will subscribe to high-end cars for those two months in India and enjoy my time. It would still be cheaper than buying a preowned commuter segment car and you will get the added safety of the higher segment car.
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Old 8th June 2021, 12:21   #6
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Default re: Confusions of an NRI for car ownership in India

I used to rent regularly from Zoom earlier but now they don’t accept international driving licenses. Also their cars are in real bad shape these days. Also I case you need to get in touch with them over the phone it’s a nightmare. I bought a Santro xing and have no issues with it. I visit India twice a year too.
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Old 8th June 2021, 12:42   #7
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Default re: Confusions of an NRI for car ownership in India

A Volkswagen is a relatively high maintenance car. So not a great idea to leave it idle for 10 months in a year.

Self drive rental would be the best option. Of course, quality of cars maybe an issue, but there will be a lot of options to chose from. There also will be smaller operators restricted to a location who will also be able to rent out vehicles. That would be the best approach in my view.
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Old 8th June 2021, 13:13   #8
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Default re: Confusions of an NRI for car ownership in India

Do keep in mind that by selling off the Vento, you will lose money in resale. However, like others have mentioned, it is not the ideal vehicle (a VW and a diesel) to leave stranded for extended period.

Is it possible that someone in your family or friends' circle could take care of your as their own? Them sing it regularly for those 10 months would be the ideal case so that the car remains in the best shape when you return to India. If not, then a basic maintenance once a month (20-30 km run, air pressure top-up and the likes) would help.

If the above is not possible then get a simpler/older petrol car and keep it as a beater car. If a comfortable sedan is a must, then I can think of old SX4, Corolla and City which you can get in 2-4 lakhs.


Getting a good rental car for each visit might not be possible and the overall experience dealing with them might vary from time to time.

Last edited by ashis89 : 8th June 2021 at 13:16.
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Old 8th June 2021, 13:47   #9
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Default re: Confusions of an NRI for car ownership in India

A friend of mine was in a similar situation but his requirement was a reasonably "highway safe" car. He bought an old Passat MT for a very low price and he is totally fine to write it off as and when the car gives up.

Renting etc is a huge inconvenience because nobody is professional or predictable. It is not cheap also unless you are looking for a small car for city errands.

My suggestion would be to buy an old car that is "safe" for the purpose and bear the costs. Don't use unsafe cars for highway drives with families. Given that you already have a Vento, I suggest you keep it. Other than car battery, there is absolutely no problem in keeping the car unused for few months. Yes, it will depreciate but I feel you already made the mistake of buying a relatively new car and you will not be able to find a similar safe car and also save money in the process.

Of course, if your usage is just for city errands, you can get any Maruti small car and enjoy the low cost and hassle free ownership. For highway travel, make sure safety is your top most criteria.
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Old 8th June 2021, 13:49   #10
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Default re: Confusions of an NRI for car ownership in India

My suggestions would be
1. Sell the car after a few months (once lockdown ends)
2. Don't buy anything for immediate future
3. Keep that money in a 6% FD Account here in an Indian bank account (to avoid forex wastage)
4. Opt for a car subscription directly from Maruti Suzuki whenever you need it for a month or two.

Assuming your car resale value is 8Lakhs, 6% of that would be around 50K/year. Your 8lakhs stays safe in a FD, the interest earned pays for the car subscription atleast for 45days.

Assuming you stay only 2 months in India in a year, not all days you need a car and there would be a few days where you would prefer to rest at home or visit very closeby places.

1. Use Ola/Uber for short rides
2. Use subscription based cars for rest of the needs
3. Don't buy any car

Why do all this?
1. Your money stops depreciating
2. You will have 8Lakhs for any unexpected emergencies
3. No headache of maintaining a diesel VW Car for 10months in a year
4. Save on Insurance renewal costs & annual service too
5. A simple Breakdown in a isolated highway due to low battery can mess up your India vacation, so why risk all this with a low usage car?

6. Last point- if you have a own car parking, rent it out when you are not in India and earn another 15k for 10months, that can be used for your petty expenses when you visit here.

All the best.

Last edited by SS80 : 8th June 2021 at 13:51.
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Old 8th June 2021, 14:14   #11
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Default re: Confusions of an NRI for car ownership in India

If I understand correctly, you purchased the car to utilise it during your visits to India. And it was known that you will stay only 2 months max during your visit.

If you were convinced to buy the car in spite of knowing your constraints, then you should not be worried about depreciation. After all, depreciation has to be calculated only for properties that are planned to be sold within 4-5 years of purchase. Post 5 years, depreciation will be very negligible.

All in all, what I gather from your post is, you have utilised it 12k kms during your visits. This means that car is being utilised. So, the purchase had a purpose and has served the purpose.

I don't think you need to sell your car because it has depreciated or is depreciating. Depreciation is a myth for items that are necessary in life (am being philosophical here).

If you purchase a car, within 1 hour of registration and delivery, it would have depreciated by 20-25%. But this cannot be a reason for you to sell the car on same day of registration and delivery. You have purchased it for a purpose. As long as purpose is served, you can continue to use it.

So, suggest not to think about selling the car. During your next visit, you will definitely feel that vaccum and regret selling the car that is now serving your purpose.

Last edited by gkveda : 8th June 2021 at 14:16.
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Old 8th June 2021, 15:47   #12
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Default re: Confusions of an NRI for car ownership in India

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2TR-FE View Post
Our requirements are a fuel efficient automatic (TC or DCT only) preferably with a boot.
Why not CVTs ? They are well efficient in mileage and reliable. I am in your same shoes, as either me or my parents are abroad for most times of the year. However we get relatives to start the car and move it back and forth. This is the best option that anyone abroad can get. Also check out this thread :
https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/techn...dos-donts.html (Long-term Parking : Do's and Don'ts)

However in the absence of someone else to care for your car, I would suggest you to sell it. Long term storage is not ideal unless there is some emotional attachment. But do remember the car rental scene here is not ideal and it is best if you can find friends/family/local car rentals who can provide you with a nice car when your back home for the holidays.

Last edited by TrackDay : 8th June 2021 at 15:48.
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Old 8th June 2021, 16:17   #13
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Default re: Confusions of an NRI for car ownership in India

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2TR-FE View Post
We are a family of five living in the Middle East since 20+ years. Our visits to India are usually twice a year ranging from 10 days to 2 months in each visit.
1- How about selling this vehicle and getting something of similar (or better) specs in about 4-5 Lakhs which doesn't depreciate much?
Its highly unlikely that you might get a well maintained car in this price and even if you did, they are still expensive car, the repair and maintenance bill will be high. Storing such old cars can be an issue

2- How about subscribing a car for the entire duration of our vacation from self drive car rentals?
Can be done, but as you said they aren't well maintained.

3- Considering the fact that all vehicles are depreciating assets, why not keep the car as long as possible by accepting the fate of depreciation?
Something I would recommend to go for, its not so old, it will be a cheaper option than self drive cars, and you will have the convenience of owning a car.


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Last edited by aah78 : 8th June 2021 at 16:56. Reason: Quote fixed. See note.
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Old 8th June 2021, 16:55   #14
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Default re: Confusions of an NRI for car ownership in India

Most NRi's keep an old beater car like Maruti 800/Alto/Hyundai Eon for their annual trips. Keep fuel to bare minimum and disconnect batteries. In case you are embarrassed to be seen in these, esp for family meet-ups etc, lease a posh car for that duration.
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Old 8th June 2021, 19:35   #15
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Default re: Confusions of an NRI for car ownership in India

I would prefer selling it off. It saves depreciation, dead maintenance, insurance and safe parking spot.

Rental options would be a better choice for your usage. You can always change vehicle if not satisfied with the condition/mileage.

The other option could be a vintage car that doesn't depreciate or rather appreciates. This mode would require you to have a nice garage where you can park it safely as well as securely from bad weather.

Among your choices, camry ages well if you can find a neat piece. Since you are abroad, chances of spending time and thorough screening of luxury used car market is slim. Therefore I will go back to my first suggestion i.e. rentals.

You can also consider trusted travel companies in your neighborhood and hire a quality vehicle with acting driver for a few weeks and you don't have to haggle with LHD RHD confusion or our traffic conditions.

Last edited by Thermodynamics : 8th June 2021 at 19:44. Reason: Additional points
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