It is a proven concept overseas but never took off in India. With the advent of electric vehicles (EV), multi-brand dealerships are now finding favour here too with at least five companies investing in this space.
The reasons are simple – there are tens of small EV makers in India in the two-wheeler, three-wheeler and bicycle segments, most of whom have neither the volumes nor the brand recall to sustain exclusive showrooms. With multi-brand showrooms, sales are higher than in single-brand showrooms, ensuring better sustainability of operations for the dealer.
Moreover, such dealerships also help fledgling EV companies widen their sales and service network in a relatively shorter time and lower capital cost.
“We think of us as Croma of electric vehicles,” says Dhiraj Tripathi, the co-founder and chief operating officer of Electric One, one such company in this space.
. These companies work on a franchise model and act as an interface between a dealer and multiple EV manufacturers.
Other revenue streams for these companies and dealers, besides vehicle sales, include servicing, vehicle charging, brand promotion and roadside assistance.
“This is a proven concept in other countries for ages but didn’t take off in India for some reason,” Tripathi said. “With EVs, the entry barrier is low, so a lot of players got into manufacturing, creating the opportunity for a specialised retailer like us.”
Electric One started operation in August 2020 with its first outlet in Jaipur. Now it has 82 franchise outlets and plans to ramp the number up to 250 by the end of this fiscal, the company’s COO said. The company also plans to start overseas operations in Thailand shortly followed by Africa. Tripathi said that Electric One is already profitable.
Rival BikeWo started operations more recently in March this year and has appointed 26 dealers so far. Fourteen of these dealers are already operational in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
“We have just started our journey, but from our first month of operations itself we are already cash-positive,” Vidhyasagar Reddy, the co-founder and COO of Bikewo, told ET via email.
Mad About Wheels meanwhile predominantly focuses on online integration of different single or multi-brand dealerships. It has over 350 dealerships on its platform. Customers can browse vehicles online and locate dealerships close to them to purchase. The company has also started its physical dealerships on a franchise model under the “Byjli” brand with about seven stores so far.