Typical N.R.I Guide to purchasing a New Car.

Joseph Cyriac
8 min readAug 21, 2020


Well here goes nothing, I’d like to warn you before you start reading any further, that this is my first ever online publication of a topic that I am very passionate about (cars obviously), and also my first time writing any content online for that matter. So, If I make any language errors (which I believe I already have) please forgive me, as I pledge to write better in the future. If this bores you, or if you are uninterested, I completely understand. You don’t have to stress yourself reading this, but If you are an automobile fanatic, I suggest you might enjoy the insights and opinions that I bring to you through this medium (no pun intended or maybe). So, buckle up, pour yourself a cuppa and enjoy what is to come!

To start with, I would like to lay the foundations or the pillars for the content I am bringing to you. When I say typical N.R.I (Non Residential Indian) I mean it in the general category of the Indian Diaspora spread across the globe, especially in the “hot spot” countries such as the USA, UK, and broadly the Middle East region. I am going to talk about the reason why these N.R. I’s buy the vehicles that they buy and the sound logic behind it. Obviously, this is not true in all cases, but if you think about it, there is a black sheep (outside-the- box-thinker to be politically correct) in every group. So, in this short essay of sorts I will express my views and opinions about the topic (The guide to Vehicle purchasing for N.R.I).

If you ask an ordinary Indian family about the car that they own (outside India) obviously, I am pretty sure it is going to be a Japanese vehicle for sure, almost 90% of the time. If you ask for more details it is also very likely that they own a sedan (if it is a small family) and an SUV if they are above 5 people or above. Now this is a known fact to everyone, and it does not have to be the N.R. I’s (it is common for most people). But what is not common are the brands of vehicles. The N.R.I lot and their love for Toyota’s and Nissan’s are inseparable- Honda, Mitsubishi and the rest are usually second place. If there is an equation for N.R. I’s and their vehicles, it would be N.R. I=Toyota and / or Nissan. This is straight up facts. Now, sure there are the Honda’s, Mitsubishi, and the Subaru’s, but these brands are secondary case for the equation that I just pulled out of nowhere. So, this is just the tip of the iceberg, and there are a few things to uncover in this.

Class and Income levels is important for this classification. When you think of an N.R.I, you think of that person who went abroad to work hard and earn a good living that may not have been possible at their home state, so they go abroad, start from the scratch and hope one day their labors bear fruit, and one way that the fruit is displayed is the first car that they buy with their hard earned money, now here is where the classification of the income levels come, for my essay I will classify them as Average, Middle Class, Upper Middle Class, Wealthy and then Ultra Wealthy, Unfortunately I can’t give the annual income levels to classify them as there are a lot of complexities involved to have a clear cut classification, but what I can tell is the cars and the type of cars that they purchase. I will write an entire paragraph (not too much) about each classification levels that I have mentioned before.

Alright so here goes the first category and that is the Average N.R.I, The brand is certainly Japanese for the level headed and reasonable Average N.R.I, and the model is for most of them might start with a Nissan Sunny all the way up to the Toyota Camry or the Nissan Altima. If it is the Honda, then it is the Civic and for Mitsubishi it is the infamous Lancer. The everyday sedan that can comfortably seat 5 people or a small family. The mundane cars so to speak is how we can call this category. These cars usually have the 1.8-liter engine and in some cases a 2.5-liter engine, depending on the company and the model type. It is cheap to maintain them, runs very well and is reliable. This category of people can also be seen buying the smaller SUV’s like the Nissan Qashqai or the Toyota Rav-4, if they fancy a higher upmarket car of the same brands. People in this category, also prefer the American rivals to such cars, you know for being able to feel a little special by not buying Toyota’s and the Nissan’s. If its American, then It is likely to be a Ford Escape or the Chevrolet Captiva. More likely than American makes, are the Korean makes like the KIA or the Hyundai, and for this category it is common to get the Sonata or the Optima if it is a KIA. The German car companies are usually rare for this category of buyers, if at all they do plan to get it would likely be a Volkswagen Jetta. But these are very fewer compared to the Toyota’s and Nissan’s that sell like hot cakes. So that completes the first category of buyers

Now moving on to the second, the Middle Class, or the Family of four or five class, This is the category of Indian families that have kids that are in their teens (usually speaking) So for them the segment of vehicles are going to be longer wheelbase sedans or the Usual everyday SUV’s, For the longer wheelbase sedans I’m referring to the Honda Accord, Nissan Maxima, Toyota Avalon and their competitors from Hyundai, KIA and Volkswagen. The variant is usually mid spec and rare cases top end. This is the section of people that get the SUV with a V6 engine and V8 if they are little fancier. The SUV’s like the Toyota Landcruiser Prado, Nissan Pathfinder or Xterra, Patrol V6 if they do not mind spending a little more and the Big daddy The Toyota Landcruiser itself but usually the V6 variant. These SUV’s are sold in their base models or a little bit higher variant in some cases. This class of people also get the Ford Edge or the Explorer, Chevy Terrain. In case of Hyundai it is the SanteFe or the KIA Sorento or the Mohave. The German rivals are also preferred in some cases for this classification like the Volkswagen Tiguan and the base model Toureg.

The Upper Middle Class, Well I can summarize this as the class of people that get the top end versions of the cars mentioned above. But this is that category where Indians have a little more money to play around and therefore move away from the Japanese makes directly to the German playing ground and up their game a little more. This is where they slowly start moving into the Mercedes-Benz range and get cars like the C, A, and E-classes in some cases. For some Benz is a bit too mainstream, so they go for the Maserati Ghibli. This segment of Indians has a car with a powerful engine such as a supercharged V6 or the Monstrous V8, producing anywhere between 300 to 500 hp. The top end of the Toyota Landcruiser or the Nissan Patrol are extremely common in the gulf for N.R. I’s in this category, along with cars like a BMW X5, Audi Q5, Mercedes GL class. They might have their old vehicle with them as well (in the sense, they do not sell it to make money for the new car), because money for them is now in good supply. in terms of the American makes, they might go for the Chevy Tahoe, Cadillac Escalade, Ford Expedition (top end) and the list goes on, For this category it is difficult to pin point a particular car that can be associated with the same. Japanese cars essentially loose the market share and the German cars gain a significant share along with the American cars.

The next category, that is the Wealthy N.R. I’s, this category of buyers looks for maximum comfort and luxury. We are now talking about cars like the BMW 7 series, Mercedes S class, Audi A8, some might even go for the British made cars like the Rolls Royce or Bentley but in the low range segment of cars like the Ghost or the Continental. You can now forget associating these buyers with Japanese cars, even if they do, they probably won’t be using it as much, or it is that car they bought when they were in the middle class stage of income. These N.R. I’s usually have around three cars or more in their garage. Each car for a different purpose, That is to say, cars for the weekdays, a family hauler like a Premium Executive SUV like a G-Class Mercedes, BMW X7 all of which are the high end variants and in some cases Performance edition, This category of buyers, might also fancy a sports car Like a Porsche Carrera, Maserati sports cars and might also have a low end versions of Ferrari’s or Lamborghini’s or Dodge Challenger performance versions (for N.R.I in North America) for driving enjoyment. This completes the type of cars and the buyers in this segment.

Last but definitely not the least, The Ultra wealthy N.R.I, the top of the automobile chain of buyers, that 1% of the lot, whose wealth is unfathomable, earning millions a month through business and other sources for wealth generation, This is that class of buyers that can be defined with words like extravagant, pinnacle of luxury or the gold standard. Types of cars are nothing short of luxury and speed, from Rolls Royce Phantoms to Bentley Mulsanne in the 4-door segment to cars like Lamborghini Aventador, Ferrari 812 and the Porsche 911 Turbo S in the two-seat segment. This segment of buyer has it all, and sky is never the limit for them, they exceed over and above with their vehicle purchases. They have cars for all types of purposes, ranging from 5 and above in their garage itself. Some even go the extra mile, and may treat themselves with a Veyron Bugatti, Koenigsegg Agera, Pagani Zonda or the Huayra. Most might even own a private jet too, but since I am no expert on that, I will stick to only cars for now. This is the Ultra wealthy capitalist extravaganza lifestyle. More can be said about such buyers, but I will stop here for now.

So there goes my list of the Typical car buying behavior and preferences for N.R.I abroad, most of this style of buying habits are common with a lot of people but where it is uncommon is in the first two segment of buyers and that is the Average and the Middle Class N.R.I. The steppingstone is always that mundane Japanese car like the Camry, Civic or the Altima, and from there on these buyers’ progress to better and greater cars. One thing common about these buyers are that they are very reasonable in their choices and have strong arguments as to why the bought the car that they have. This is especially true for the Average, Middle Class and in some cases the Upper Middle-Class buyers, but it slowly fades away once money is not a problem for them. I can also stress the fact that, even if money is not an issue for purchasing a vehicle, N.R.I never go to the extremes of wasting money to purchase cars that they don’t need or require, there is always a good reason as to why they buy it and what led them to buy their car.

This concludes my Essay on the typical N.R.I guide to purchasing a new vehicle, I hope that this wasn’t boring or uninteresting to you, If you like this content and want more of it, please let me know and I will do my best to bring you more interesting automotive content for all car fanatics out there. Thank you so much for reading, until the next one, Ciao!