A survey has revealed that online platforms have emerged as preferred marketplace for buying a vehicle with a majority 60 per cent of respondents showing willingness to buy vehicle digitally. Besides, 54 per cent of the 77 per cent respondents who had deferred their decision to purchase a car were keen to own it in 2021, it said.

The survey, the Indian Automotive Consumer Canvass, of potential four-wheeler and two-wheeler customers was carried on 2,02,334 people from across the country with the objective of understanding vehicle purchase behaviour and changing perceptions in the wake of Covid-19 in India, a release said.

Conducted by CarWale and BikeWale in association with CEAT Tyres, IndusInd Bank and Frost & Sullivan, the survey also found an upswing in interest in electric vehicles (EV) with a willingness to explore new models in ownership and a sharp uptick in interest in online purchases, it said. The reasons for the popularity of online mediums were better deals convenience, trust in vehicle manufacturers, followed by transparent purchase process and fear of hygiene at dealerships, it said. On the other side, inability to touch and feel the vehicle was cited as the top reason for not opting for an online purchase followed by better deals offered at dealership, it stated. According to the survey, interest in EVs showed a sharp rise with 35 per cent of the respondents reporting a willingness to go for an EV as their next vehicle.

The rising demand is driven by better product options (55 per cent), attractive technologies (39 per cent), and affordability (31 per cent).

However, the lack of infrastructure seems to be the major stumbling block in its wider appeal with 50 per cent of the respondents cited lack of charging stations and number of product options as the main reasons for not buying an EV.

The survey also revealed the changing mindset of the vehicle buyer as their perception changes from ownership to usership as an estimated 18 per of the respondents showed interest in buying pre-owned cars or opting for leasing/ subscription models.

While purchasing new vehicles was still a dominant feature at 83 per cent, the rising interest in alternate buying options shows a propensity to place usage and functionality above owning a new model, it said. Covid-19 has played a role in influencing buying decisions as an overwhelming 77 per cent of the respondents reported postponing their decision to buy a vehicle due to the outbreak in 2020.

But the pandemic notwithstanding, more than half the people surveyed (54 per cent) were keen to buy a vehicle in 2021 as against one-third (34 per cent) of the respondents who had decided not to make any such purchases this year, it said, adding, the interest in buying vehicles during the pandemic can be explained by the necessity of personal mobility.

''The survey indicates a positive sentiment and reiterates the findings of CarWale's first survey in April last year, where we predicted that the last quarter of the last financial year will be the demand-driving period. While the impact on the supply chain and OEMs was unexpectedly severe, fortunately, we are now seeing a changing pattern,'' said Banwari Lal Sharma, CEO, CarWale and BikeWale. ''We have demand on our side and the rest can be taken care of. One of the most heartening aspects of the survey is the revelation of 60 per cent of the respondents willing to go for online purchase,'' he added.