Covid sparks distress sale of luxury cars

Luxury car owners are desperately trying to dispose of their premium vehicles at a fraction of the purchase price as the pandemic and lockdowns impact businesses and jobs across India while causing uncertainty in key urban markets.

Over half a dozen luxury car dealerships in Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, Chennai and Kochi said they are receiving an increasing number of requests from customers to find clients for their pre-owned vehicles at heavily discounted prices. Several banks have also placed similar requests, they said.

“Luxury car owners looking to sell their prized possessions usually do not trust independent brokers. So, they reach out to organized channels, which include the existing dealership network. Once we have enough leads, we push advertisements locally to invite interest from potential customers,” said a Mumbai-based dealer, seeking anonymity.

“We help customers find clients not only to maintain our relationship but also because a good deal on used luxury cars offers good margins,” said a Kochi-based dealer, seeking anonymity.

To be sure, prices of luxury cars depreciate the most compared to other passenger car categories in the pre-owned vehicle market. According to the people involved in the trade, a 3-4-year-old pre-owned luxury car can be bought for as low as 40% of its original purchase value.

While such bargains underscore the underlying distress, it also creates an opportunity for those who aspire to own a luxury vehicle.

Sumit Garg, co-founder of Delhi-based Luxury Ride India Pvt. Ltd, said while a pre-owned Audi A4 can be purchased for about 15 lakh, a used Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW X5 can be bought for 45 lakh and 40 lakh, respectively. The dealership price of a new Audi A4 is about 41 lakh, while Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW X5 cost 1.4 crore and above 75 lakh, respectively.

“We plan to pick up 19 pre-owned cars from Jaguar Land Rover. This is more than what we bought from them in February-March,” Garg said.

According to Amit Kumar, head at OLX Autos India, the number of listings for pre-owned luxury cars on the classified platform has risen sharply in the past few months.

“On OLX, the supply of pre-owned luxury cars has gone up 82% in June-August, compared with March–May,” Kumar said, adding that there is a surge in demand for these vehicles too.

“Maharashtra, Delhi-NCR, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka are the top states where users sold their luxury cars,” Kumar said, adding this trend coincides with the fact that India began unlocking in a phased manner from June.

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