Will the odd-even trial impact car-buying decisions?

By Ashee Sharma , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Marketing | January 15, 2016
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Delhi has just completed a fortnight with the odd-even car rule. It has brought consumers face to face with the realisation that their cars are part of the problem that makes Delhi the world's most polluted city. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has stopped registration of diesel cars with a capacity of more than 2000 cc till March 31 in the city. Will all this affect the consumer's view of the automobile - and influence his or her choice of their next car?

Will users of automobiles - not just in Delhi but in other cities too - feel more responsible about their role in the state of the environment today? Will this affect their choice of vehicle, petrol or diesel? Large car or small? Or will it be business as usual? afaqs! talked to four experts only to get a divided house.

Will the odd-even trial impact car-buying decisions?

Hormazd Sorabjee, editor, Autocar India and car nut

Hormazd Sorabjee

The odd-even rule was a good experiment and has highlighted the fact that the biggest negative effect that too many cars out on the roads have is not just pollution, but traffic congestion. I think it is this factor, as well as the bulge of their wallets that concern car buyers and not the environmental damage caused and its ill-effects. If this rule sticks, people may end up buying two small, cheap cars, each with an odd and even number, instead of a big, expensive one.

A long-term road map with tough regulations to keep pollution in check is the best way forward. This will encourage more environment-friendly technologies in cars.

Ashish Masih, editor-in-chief,

Ashish Masih

Irrespective of its impact, the odd-even experiment has seen the citizens of Delhi take responsibility for the environment whole-heartedly. They are now more conscious of environmental concerns because it affects the health of their families and children. In all probability, the scheme is going to make a comeback in another 3-4 months, and hence, it will influence future car-buying decisions.

The sale of second-hand petrol variants and hybrids will go up in the coming years. The government is, moreover, mulling over the introduction of BS-VI sooner than it should be. Since the auto industry is not yet ready for the same, all the additional cost that it incurs will eventually be passed on to customers. CNG will therefore become a preferred alternative, because in addition to being a clean fuel, it is also cost-effective.

Ranojoy Mukerji, auto expert

Ranojoy Mukerji

The main reason behind people following the odd-even rule so steadfastly is the Rs 2,000 fine imposed on offenders, which is quite a deterrent for the middle-class. The 'success' has little to do with care for environment or health. It is purely legislation-driven. This is evident in the fact that people who are buying new cars are still not opting for hybrids, even though they can afford to.

Generally speaking, customers buy what makes economic sense to them. For instance, nobody buys a five-star electronic product over a three-star one to save the environment, but instead, to save electricity, and hence, money. However, the industry has been affected as there are fewer car purchases being made at this point. But that's because nobody is sure what is going to happen; whether the diesel ban will continue or not? The entire MUV (Multi Utility vehicle) and SUV (Sports Utility Vehicle) segment has been badly hit as one cannot register diesel cars above 2000 cc till March 31.

Although there has been the indirect benefit of de-congestion on the roads, the air quality has not improved much. All studies have shown that cars are not contributing to pollution in a major way. Moreover, there's so much hue and cry over PM2.5 and NOx (mono-nitrogen oxides) that no one wants to talk about the ill-effects of CNG, which is a carcinogenic fuel.

Uber spokesperson, UberPool (UberPool was launched in the city following the Delhi Government's decision to implement the odd-even rule)


We have witnessed a significant increase in demand -- almost in double digits -- across various categories on Uber, over the last few days in Delhi-NCR. Since the launch of Uber's carpooling initiative, our match rates between passengers who are requesting a ride has touched over 50 per cent in a short period of time. People will continue to carpool on Uber even after the odd-even experiment is over, not only because it's more affordable, but can also help reduce the congestion and pollution in the city over time.

During the odd-even experiment, there has been a behavioural shift where people have shown an inclination to be a part of the solution. Carpooling means better asset utilisation and the response from masses confirms that there is a shift in trend from pride in ownership to asset sharing. The scheme has pushed people to use alternative modes of transportation and made them think of the impact that using under-utilised cars can have on the environment.

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