With scores of small-scale electric vehicle (EV) brands opening shop and only few generating sufficient sales to justify exclusive dealerships, some companies are finding a new opportunity to start chains of multi-brand EV stores.
Both the companies plan to retail all kinds of electric two- and three-wheelers both online and offline.
“Right from a Rs 20,000 electric bicycle to a Rs 4 lakh electric three-wheeler we sell everything,” Nagesh Basavanhalli, managing director of Greaves Cotton, told ET. “We will also offer finance and battery charging and swapping infrastructure.”
The companies will handle back-end operations like dealing with EV makers, managing inventory and online sales, while physical outlets will be run by franchised dealers.
eWheelers has set up a flagship store and 50 franchised stores in the National Capital Region (NCR) while Greaves Cotton set up its first retail outlet called AutoEVMart in Bengaluru last month and plans to expand to other major cities soon.
Multi-brand automobile dealerships are not a new concept. The model has been successful in several countries globally, especially for low-volume vehicles. Even in India, many entrepreneurs have independently established their own multi-brand dealerships.
However, this model now streamlines the process with the franchise entrepreneur having to deal only with Greaves or eWheelers and not with multiple EV brands.
Headquartered in Hyderabad, eWheelers has so far been bootstrapped. The company is now crowdsourcing $1.5 million, or about Rs 11 crore, for pan-India expansion, its founder and chief executive Vasu Reddy said.
Post that, eWheelers plans go for venture capital funding, he said.
To reduce the investment of franchise partners, eWheelers will have limited stock at the outlets which will be small ‘studio’ stores with two or three employees. The vehicles will be used for test rides and following that a customer can place an order online and take delivery from the store.
Franchises will also generate revenue from manufacturers per test ride as well as for putting new models up for display, Reddy said.
They will also earn rental income from charging and battery swapping stations and can break even on their investments as early as in nine months, he claimed.