We are rivals. Our companies and our rivalry, centenarians in the land of our birth. But here, we are young. Jostling for space in a narrow sliver of a duopolistic market, like shoppers fighting to walk fast in the narrow by lanes of Chandini Chowk.
This rivalry, enshrined in our heritage, continued to fuel efforts of wooing Indians with the freedom that comes with driving on wide open roads. Selling the dream of a family’s togetherness in a car or the adrenalin rush that comes with flooring the accelerator. We have been sparring and jabbing at each other for close to two decades now. Winning a bout on some occasions and not winning on some.
It’s only on an impending absence that you realize rivalry matters. It’s like a smell you never knew was there until it went away. It is also one of the things that keeps your job interesting. It keeps your interest piqued when you spot your rival’s ad on TV or read what experts say about a new launch. Rivalry in a market pushes the salesman to devise a new pitch. Keeps him on his toes. To devise new tactics. Pushes you for a better you to emerge.
In the last few months news of Chevrolet’s impending demise intensified. Rumors circled around the company like vultures. Waiting. Waiting for death to finally arrive. To write a brand’s obituary. Start discussions around what went wrong. Pundits will now find many faults. Perhaps they got their strategy wrong. Or their products. Their advertising. Or maybe they never really escaped the emission controversy. Or maybe they shouldn’t have sold us Chinese cars.
Whatever the reason it didn’t have to end this way. With an implosion.
The end to a business is always painful, like death. Because every business is about people, hardworking employees, dealers, customers and friends. All, now face an uncertain future. It is also about the end to a rivalry and all that goes with it. It’s like petrichor that accompanies new rain and leaves a gnawing feeling inside you after it leaves. Nostalgia will soon replace the space currently occupied by rivalry. You will recall the haunting melody of the brand launch film, now close to fifteen years old; “I Am The Sun….”.or remember the stirrings you felt when Chevy urged you to ‘Choose To Cruze’. Why didn’t you make something like this? And then very soon their cars may be remembered, the same way we speak of people who have been long dead.
So long Chevrolet India. Find new roads.