Used Car Market- Booming in India

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Used cars are selling like hotcakes in India. Thanks to their easy availability and lower interest rates, the sale of used cars is only expected to further shoot up the sales ladder in the coming years. It is hard to find accurate data on the sale of used car in India, where the unorganized sector plays a major role. However, if we go through the car dealers and the country's largest vehicle financier list, more second-hand cars were bought and sold in 2007 than new ones. According to estimates provided by Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. TrueValue used car division and Honda Siel Car India Ltd. Auto Terrace, which sells pre-owned cars, the used car market this fiscal year is about 10 percent more than that of new cars.

Car financers elsewhere have also pointed out this growing trend. They estimate that the used car segment is growing at 25-30 percent compared to the 13 percent for the new car market. In 2007, which ended in March, Indians bought 1.4 million new cars, compared to about 1.3 million used ones in the same period. Since March, Maruti sold 65,000 used cars, an increase of 45 percent compare to last year, while Honda sold 2,769 used cars in this period compared with 1,765 cars a year ago.

About 80 percent of the transactions in the second-hand car segment still occurred in the unorganized sector, facilitated by an estimated 2,000. With advances in technology and a record number of new car models entering the Indian market every year, customers today typically go for an upgrade or exchange within three years of their purchase, compared to the aged ideology of sticking to the same car for 10-15 years.

As many as 50 new and tweaked models have been introduced in India for the past couple of years. This trend is expected to continue and grow till the car makers' pump in Rs 35,000 Crore in Asia's third largest automobile market. To think India had barely two marquees three decades ago - the Fiat Premier and Hindustan Motors Ambassador. The 25-30 percent growth in the previously owned car market in the last three years has happened because interest rates for used and new vehicles are more or less the same.

Organised players like Maruti's TrueValue and Automartindia Ltd have entered this business and contributing to the trend. They offer buyers and sellers the assurance of proper ownership and accident documentation along with quality and add-ons such as warranty and free services previously available only for new car buyers. The general consensus among the industry is that the used car segment may become almost double of the new car market in another five years as two-wheeler owners has been opting for four-wheelers.

In markets such as the US and France, the used car segment is 2.5 times larger than the new car one. India may outshoot this record in the years to come. After all, we do have the second largest population!