Car wash and car care is one of the most essential segments in the automotive industry and yet at the same time it is facing some very pressing challenges in India. The Car Care Expo, which gives this segment the much-required exclusive identity, in its 5th edition had some stalls overflowing with visitors on all three days. People gathered to see for themselves the effectiveness of car cleaning machines, and inquisitive customers questioned sales personnel about chemicals displayed. Clean India Journal asked some of them about what was new, and in demand in the car care industry, and what their many customers were looking for:
Having a conversation near Steam Buddy’s booth was wellnigh impossible. Throughout the day, its MD Piyush Khokle would operate his steam cleaning machine on a test surface; its loud drone did nothing to faze his customers, who came not only from the car care sector, but also from the pharma and food processing industries. Between demonstrations, Khokle said: “Visitors have amazed me with the many ways they want to apply steam cleaning to their own industries. This machine is easy to use, and thus has many applications.”
Waxpol’s stall was no less noisy with the din created by customers shooting queries about their range of cleaning products. Subhash Chandra Pandey, Branch Manager (Mumbai) said, “Polishes are selling more than ever before. Even if you don’t use a lubricant in your car for a while, you can get yourself to go on using the car. But no one can leave a car dirty. That is why polishes are more in demand.” Asked for proportions of enquiries for polish to lubricants, he revealed — 70:30.
He went on to explain why this trend is only set to rise. India is slowly but steadily increasing its share of electric vehicles; these won’t need lubricant, only polish. As the government incentivises e-vehicles and more and more charging stations sprout up in urban areas, the relative demand for polish is set to shoot through the roof.
Pandey explained that there are three categories of car cleaning compounds: for washing, for rubbing, and a final polish. Depending upon the age of the car and the amount its colour has faded, a customer may choose to use some or all of the above products.
Water saving for the win
A conventional car wash requires massive quantities of water. After cleaning, this becomes wastewater, which, along with chemicals used, is released into sewers and finally enters our groundwater. Khokle said, “Steamers can help prevent this. They don’t require any additional chemical, and need just 10-15 litres of water to wash both the inside and outside of a car, thus reducing water consumption by up to 90%.”
Ultimately, it is the level of cleanliness inside a car that matters most, as that is the part we come in contact with. Imagine the crumbs of food that kids might drop on the floor. Or the breathing problems mold can cause for an asthmatic patient. Khokle said: “Steam works at a temperature which can properly sanitise car interiors. Not requiring additional chemicals has an added advantage; these used to spoil the workplace area and employees’ clothing. Using just steam allows employees to be properly dressed.”
Saving time is making money
Hitesh Jangra, Director-Jangra Chemicals, said: “Customers want products that are quick to use. They are interested in a single product that can perform more than one task. For example, they want a waterless wash and spray wax in the same product”. He gave the example of his fastselling product Hybridex; all it needs is to be diluted in water, sprayed and wiped. A single bottle of the product produces 40 bottles of cleaning liquid after dilution, which can be used for 80 washes.
Not only is it economical, but as a cherry on the cake, it can be used by both professionals and laymen, and guarantees the same standards of cleaning as multiple cleaning products used together.”
Summarising the demand for multi-function products, Pandey reminded us that most people did not wash their own cars. But there is a minority that does, and these car-owners do not want to put in too much effort and use a series of products. They want an all-in-one product.