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Confusions of an NRI for car ownership in India

Our visits to India are usually twice a year ranging from 10 days to 2 months in each visit.

BHPian 2TR-FE recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

We are a family of five living in the Middle East for 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 km 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 km in this time frame.

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.

How about selling this vehicle and getting something of similar (or better) spec in about 4-5 lakhs which doesn't depreciate much?

Example: 8th-gen Accord, 6th-gen Camry

Pros

  • Relatively negligible depreciation.

Cons

  • Difficult to find well maintained examples.
  • Not very fuel efficient models available.

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.

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 not be touched for (maybe) 200+ days.

In general, what will be the best possible car ownership options for NRIs in India?

Here's what BHPian dileepcm has to say on the matter:

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, 1.1L 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 it 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.

Here's what BHPian ashis89 had to say on the matter:

Do keep in mind that by selling off the Vento, you will lose money in resale. However, 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 yours as their own? Them using 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.

Here's what GTO had to say on the matter:

Here's what I would do:

- For the short daily trips, I would Uber it around the city.

- If I need a car for a couple of hours, I would rent a chauffeur-driven car from Savaari & other similar services. Uber & Ola also offer multi-hour rentals which I have often used. Here, the car stays with you for a specified duration.

- For road-trip holidays or 4 - 5 days of self driving needs, I'd get a self-drive rental. Zoom might be junk now, but there are other superior services.

Parking a car for such long durations is just asking for trouble. Rodent damage, tyre flat-spotting, dead batteries, reliability issues....much like the human body, cars are also built to move. Not sit in one place.

Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.

 
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