Four business ideas in the auto space

22 May

In the last article I touched upon the changing face of the Indian automobile industry and the brisk pace at which it is growing. The entire automotive echo system has greatly benefited out of this sudden surge, in the past ten years or so, providing job opportunities to millions of people in India – thanks to the auto ancillary establishments, forging units, service centers, mechanic shops and agencies that provide related skills/services etc. However, there are still quite a few untapped market opportunities in this space, which does not necessarily provide jobs to people in bulk but are good business ideas to invest in. In this write up we will explore four such business opportunities (I should warn you that there is nothing innovative about them).

Multi-storied parking lots

Parking woes, along with strenuous traffic conditions, are common phenomena in all our metros and tier 1 cities. While the government and private-public partnerships need to work on the roads, nothing is preventing the venture capitalists or business men from starting a number of multistoried parking lots in key access locations in and around our big cities. Each of these parking lots ideally should accommodate 100 to 250 cars and should have automated machines at entry/exit that charge either hourly, daily or monthly parking fees from its customers. There can be services like round the clock security, parking full/free indicators, easy access via elevators or stairs etc that you can find in any modern parking lots in the western world. This is a very exciting business opportunity whereby the investments per such a building could be anywhere between 5 to 20 crores, depending on the city, locality and desired capacity etc.

Automated car wash centers

One of the worst things that could happen to your expensive, brand-new car is the scratches on the body – either owing to the packed traffic conditions or caused by the unskilled cleaner who is usually your gardener, house maid, security guard or chauffer. The latter issue can be addressed by introducing touchless automated car wash centers. This is an even better business opportunity compared to the first one as the number of expensive cars that are coming into the Indian market is growing day by day. The car wash centers automates the entire process of spraying water, applying shampoo, scrubbing the bottom/tyres, drying the car and applying wax in a sequence that takes hardly three to five minutes. It is high time we introduced such facilities in India. The initial investment per such units could be anywhere in the range of a crore or so but returns are guaranteed manyfold.

Traffic Radio channel

While our popular FM radio stations are updating listeners on the traffic conditions in respective cities, it is about time we had dedicated traffic radio stations. This has to be a public-private partnership in Indian conditions as getting relevant information from the traffic personnel on duty may be the only reliable input for providing such a service. This kind of a traffic radio station can be set up at a very minimal cost (say less than 15 lakhs or so) and the revenue model is driven by commercials. The recurring expense may include funding the government a little bit in the wake of the additional services that the traffic police department has to provide to the radio station. But this venture will definitely make more money than many of our popular FM stations as there is not much content production cost involved.

Mobile basic breakdown service

There are several breakdown services already provided by the service stations and big body shops. However, there are still opportunities for the small and medium scale entrepreneurs to enter this space. We are talking about providing very basic breakdown services like tyre repair/change, minor accident repair, replacing battery or uses, basic engine failures, etc. Depending on the number and type of service vehicles one would want to start with, this business can be set up at a cost of 1 to 10 lakhs. At 10 lakhs one can have five or six used Maruti Omnis on errand serving a whole city from various locations. The returns on investment would depend on the type and reliability of the service provided.

Do you have any other business idea related to the auto-industry?

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