It is a proven concept abroad but never got off the ground in India. With the advent of electric vehicles (EV), multi-brand dealers are now finding favor here too, with at least five companies investing in this space.
The reasons are simple: there are dozens of small EV manufacturers in India in the two-wheeler, three-wheeler and bicycle segments, most of whom have neither the volumes nor the brand memory to maintain exclusive showrooms. With multi-brand showrooms, sales are higher than single-brand showrooms, ensuring more sustainable business operations for the dealer.
Moreover, such dealers also help young EV companies to expand their sales and service network in a relatively shorter time and with a lower cost of capital.
“We see ourselves as the Croma of electric vehicles,” said Dhiraj Tripathi, the co-founder and chief operating officer of Electric One, one such company in this space.
Other companies include BikeWo, Mad About Wheels, eWheelers and AutoEVMart by
† These companies are working on a franchise model, acting as an interface between a dealer and multiple EV manufacturers.
Other revenue streams for these companies and dealers, in addition to vehicle sales, include maintenance, vehicle charging, brand promotion and roadside assistance.
“This has been a proven concept in other countries for centuries, but it hasn’t taken off in India for some reason,” Tripathi said. “With EVs, the barrier to entry is low, so a lot of players have gone into production, which created the opportunity for a specialist retailer like us.”
Electric One started its first outlet in Jaipur in August 2020. Now it has 82 franchised locations and plans to increase the number to 250 by the end of this fiscal year, the company’s COO said. The company also plans to start overseas operations in Thailand, followed shortly by Africa. Tripathi said Electric One is already profitable.
Rival BikeWo recently launched in March of this year and has appointed 26 dealers so far. Fourteen of these dealers are already operating in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
“We’ve just started our journey, but from our first month of operations itself, we’ve been cash positive,” Vidhyasagar Reddy, Bikewo’s co-founder and COO, told ET via email.
Mad About Wheels, meanwhile, mainly focuses on the online integration of various single or multi-brand dealers. It has more than 350 dealers on its platform. Customers can browse vehicles online and find nearby dealers to purchase them. The company has also started its physical dealers on a franchise model under the “Byjli” brand, with about seven stores to date.