Auto Summit 2014: An Enriching & Rewarding Experience

Dear friends,

FADA’s biennial event, viz. Auto Summit 2014 has concluded. I am happy to note that the Summit went off very well and was a tremendous success in terms of participation, scale, grandeur, stature of guest speakers and quality of deliberations. 

FADA’s journey of organizing Auto Summit biennially started in the year 2000, coinciding with New Millennium. There has been no stopping since then; each successive edition of Auto Summit has been getting bigger and better.

The Auto Summit 2014 took place amid gloomy scenario for the auto market that has been reeling under acute slowdown for the last two years. However, that did not deter my fellow dealers and others connected with automotive business from participating. The downbeat sentiment notwithstanding, the response was overwhelming and there was a palpable enthusiasm and excitement among the participants. This goes to show that Auto Summit, which brings all stakeholders together on a common platform to mull and come up with innovative ideas to tide over the current & emerging challenges, has become a big draw and a ‘must-attend’ event in the calendar of all those associated with automotive business.

The scale and grandeur of Summit apart, it was a learning and enriching experience for all the participants - be it the Government, the auto industry or the auto retail. The outcome emerging from the two-day deliberations was that India’s long-term growth story remains intact in spite of the long spell of downturn confronting the auto market in India currently. While the situation is critical and challenging at the moment, the good old days are likely to return with macroeconomic environment showing green shoots of recovery and political situation likely to stabilise in the second half of FY15.

The deliberations threw up a number of recommendations and takeaways for the Government, automobile manufacturers and the dealers. The issues of abysmally low margins and lop-sided OEM-dealer relations came out of the discussion cogently. The takeaway for the dealers was that it is the healthy HR practices, employee satisfaction and customer relations that separate the successful dealers from the rest.

More importantly, the Summit helped in sensitizing the Government through the Hon’ble Union Minister for Heavy Industries & PE on the issues of concern to automobile dealers. It was heartening to learn from the Hon’ble Minister that his ministry is working on the guidelines and mulling a mechanism within his ministry for redressal of the concerns of auto retail.

The Summit also offered an opportunity to present the findings of the study on ‘Competitive Benchmarking of Passenger Vehicle Retail Practices of OEMs in India, conducted by F&S on behalf of FADA, in the presence of representatives of OEMs. The findings were revelations both for the OEMs and the dealers. The objective of the study is to bring to the fore the best practices of OEMs and to try to replicate them across the industry.

In this maddening world, there is sometimes a need to pause and turn to spiritual solace. This was the idea underlying the scheduling of a motivational/spiritual session by Mahatria Ra, Diviner of the Path Infinitheism. No business can flourish without ethics, commitment, faith, passion and decisive leadership, which Mahatria Ra elucidated and illustrated in his one-hour spiritual/motivational discourse that kept the audience spell-bound. 

The Summit that coincided with the 50th year of FADA’s existence also provided us an opportunity to honour the doyens of auto industry and retail automobile trade, namely, Mr Ratan Tata, Dr Brijmohan Lall Munjal, Mr Arun Sanghi and Mr Rakesh Jain for their singular contribution and pioneering role in promoting the growth & development of auto industry and auto retail in India. We could not have asked for a better occasion to felicitate these stalwarts.

It was also an occasion to recognize and reward my fellow dealers, who have performed exceptionally well in dealership management and done outstanding work in promoting safety, green environment, social good and community welfare as a part of their CSR initiatives. I strongly feel that no business can operate in a vacuum. For any business to survive and thrive, it is imperative that it enjoys the sanction and goodwill of the society. Automotive Dealership Excellence Awards, instituted jointly by FADA and Auto Monitor in the year 2009, not only aim at recognizing the best auto retail practices, but also create visibility, bringing in loads of the goodwill of the society for the social & community work being carried out by the members of automobile dealer fraternity across the country. I convey my congratulations to the worthy winners in various categories and individual performance parameters.

The best part is that Auto Summit is not all about business alone. It is also an occasion for automobile dealers to meet and interact with the leaders of auto industries & allied businesses as well as their fellow dealers from within India and outside, enabling them to get an insight into the scenario and developments pan India and other parts of the world.

Auto Summit 2014 was special in that an International Round Table, involving discussion with our international guests on the auto retail practices and regulation of auto retail obtaining in other countries, was a part of the programme. While there are franchise laws and some kind of regulation governing OEM-dealer relations in America and Europe, there is an imperative need for a mechanism regulating OEM-dealer relations in India. I am happy to note that the Hon’ble Minister responded positively to this suggestion in his address at the Inaugural Session.

All said and done, Auto Summit 2014 was a great experience for me personally. I am sure, all those who participated would have had equally great experience. Especially, the Summit provided me an opportunity to meet and interact with my fellow dealers from across various regions. In view of the fact that India is a vast country geographically, it is well-nigh impossible for the FADA office bearers to visit each and every city and town to meet the members of auto retail business community spread over the length and breadth of the country.

The scale and grandeur at which the Auto Summit 2014, impeccable programme and elaborate arrangements at the Summit could not have been possible but for the painstaking efforts of some of my colleagues in FADA Council. I express my sincere thanks to the members of Council and Auto Summit Committee and, in particular, Mr Vinay Nevatia - Chairman, Auto Summit 2014; Mr Rakesh Jain - Director, Auto Summit 2014; and Mr Bharat M Sanghvi - Past President, FADA, who spared no effort to make the Summit a stupendous success.

I am indeed grateful to the Hon’ble Union Minister of Heavy Industries, leaders of industry & allied businesses, consultants & management gurus, and academia for taking time off their busy schedule to be in our midst at the Auto Summit to enlighten and enrich our experiences.

We would not have been able to organize the Summit at such a scale but for the support of sponsors. I gratefully acknowledge and value their support. 

My thanks and gratitude to my fellow dealers and others who participated at the Summit overwhelmingly, displaying a lot of enthusiasm, to make its proceedings lively and the outcome meaningful.

Last but not the least, my grateful thanks to our international guests, who spent their valuable time and travelled long distances to be in our midst to provide global perspective to the discussion.

As I sign off, it is gratifying to note the reduction in excise duty on motor vehicles announced in the interim Union Budget. I hope, the stimulus will go a long way in reviving the auto market that has been witnessing a prolonged slump. I, on behalf of FADA, express my sincere thanks to the Hon’ble Finance Minister and the Hon’ble Union Minister of Heavy Industries for providing relief to the auto sector.

Please feel free to send your suggestions and inputs to make activities of FADA more meaningful to its constituents.

With best wishes,

Yours sincerely,

Mohan Himatsingka

 

 

 

 

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