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Corporate Report

Published on: Feb. 21, 2024, 8:35 p.m.
TVS Mobility group hits the top gear
  • The objective of the JV is to establish a comprehensive vehicle mobility ecosystem in India

By K.T. Jagannathan

Coming events cast their shadows before them – so goes an old adage. It requires a dive-down the time machine to comprehend fully the implication of this one move many summers ago. In 2008, international private equity player Goldman Sachs made an initial investment of about Rs100 crore, picking up a ‘minority stake’ in TVS Logistics, one of the TVS group companies.

It had indeed surprised long-time watchers of the TVS group. Not just that. It had then become an intense talk of the town in the Chennai business world. That the TVS group could let one of its outfits take PE funding was unthinkable for many in this part of the business world.

Much water has flown under the bridge since then. And, the larger TVS group (comprising four families) has itself gone into the pages of history, with each wing going its own way, following a formal legal separation a few years ago.

Post-legal separation, a lot of action is happening at the TVS Mobility Group, which is the holding company for the businesses managed by the T.S. Rajam family members. The companies housed under TVS Mobility Group evolved from the business started by T.V. Sundaram Iyengar in 1911. TVS Mobility Group has combined annual revenue of around $3 billion in the mobility space. Its activities span across four verticals – manufacturing, supply chain solutions, auto retail and aftermarket distribution and services.  

In the manufacturing space, it has Sundaram Industries Private Limited (SIPL), which is diversified across three business streams: rubber, defence solutions and battery chargers. TVS Tread (Retreading & Tyre solutions), Sun TWS (industrial solid tyre), TVS Defence Solutions and Sirius Controls (battery chargers) also form part of Sundaram Industries. Besides, the group has a number of manufacturing companies. They are: TVS Rubber, TVS Sri Chakra Tyres, TVS Sensing Solutions, SI Air Springs, TVS Argomm, TVS Mobility, filling the auto retail space (vehicle distribution) and Ki Mobility Solutions (operating in the automotive aftermarket space).

Yet, TVS Supply Chain Solutions (formerly TVS Logistics) is the flagship company of the TVS Mobility group. TVS Supply Chain Solutions is the first company in the TVS Mobility group to go public in the post-separation (legally) era. The last public issue in the erstwhile TVS group (comprising four families) happened over three decades ago!

Mitsubishi picks up stake

The TVS Mobility Group has hit the headlines yet again when it roped in Mitsubishi Corporation of Japan to put in place a brand-new joint venture under the name and style of TVS Vehicle Mobility Solution Private Ltd. (TVS VMS). The joint venture was formed by transferring the automobile dealership business of TVS Mobility Private Ltd. into it. Mitsubishi has picked up a 32 per cent stake in TVS VMS by investing about Rs300 crore. This has put the valuation of the JV at around Rs1,000 crore.

The dealership business of TVS Mobility is among the largest in the country with over 150 outlets distributing vehicles of Honda, Renault, Ashok Leyland, Mahindra and also the mining and construction equipment makers.

The objective of the JV is to establish a comprehensive vehicle mobility ecosystem in India. The JV is expected to offer a complete portfolio of services to its customers, and herald a transformation in the Indian automotive landscape.

  • Dinesh: a sound business model

    Dinesh: a sound business model

“This investment is intended to propel the vision of partners in relation to vehicle ownership in passenger cars, commercial vehicles and material handling equipment (MHE),” says R. Dinesh, director, TVS Mobility. “The business model will have the potential to achieve a revenue of Rs15,000 crore in the next 3-5 years from the current Rs5,000 crore. After providing integrated and digital platforms for the independent aftermarket, the vehicle mobility business will provide innovative and digitally-enabled solutions to our customers, be it enterprises, corporates or fleet owners – and expand our partnership with vehicle manufacturers to provide integrated solutions across vehicle sales, operating of vehicles and ‘Vehicle-as-a-Service’ (micro-mobility) solutions. This partnership will work closely with other stakeholders to provide a solution for all such stakeholders,” he adds.

What has triggered the thought for a brand-new JV with Mitsubishi? Srinivasa Raghavan, global president, TVS VMS, puts things in perspective, when he says that four themes of consumer disruption were dominating the mobility ecosystem. They are: Accelerated electrification of mobility with the mobility landscape being dominated by eco-conscious users; Digitised and connected mobility with increased degree of autonomy; Integrated and simplified landscape for seamless end-to-end mobility experience (including multimodal mobility offerings); and Shift from ownership to user-ship which provides flexible access to private mobility and on-demand functionalities.

Vaas – a holistic platform

Smart mobility is going to be the order of the future, because it facilitates differentiated business models. Not surprisingly, TVS VMS is seeing immense potential in the vehicle life-cycle management space as opposed to the conventional dealership space. The new JV is indeed a recognition of the unfolding transformation in the mobility space.

Vaas (vehicle as a service) is the name of the new game in the emerging dynamics of the automobile world. Vaas presupposes a holistic platform where vehicle makers, financial service providers, technology start-ups and the like are connected under a single platform to facilitate the provision of a host of services such as sale of new vehicles, fleet management, account management, vehicle leasing, etc. TVS VMS is not just about creating an integrated vehicle mobility business model. It is also about creating new revenue streams.

Even though car dealerships will come under the purview of TVS VMS, the primary clientele for the JV will be fleet operators of commercial vehicles and off-highway vehicles. TVS VMS will help corporates focus on their core business activities since other elements in the mobility eco-system are offered as service by the JV.

For corporates, the big advantage is that they will be dealing with a single brand (TVS VMS) instead of multiple entities. They may be operating several projects in multiple locations. They may find it difficult to manage all aspects – right from purchasing or leasing of vehicles to after-sales service and the like.

  • Raghavan: zeroing in on four themes

    Raghavan: zeroing in on four themes

Besides being an investor, Mitsubishi is expected to bring its global experience and share its best practices to scale up JV business model faster. “India has the world’s third-largest market for new automobiles, with sales topping 5 million vehicles in 2023 and expected to grow at 6-7 per cent in the next few years,” says Shigeru Wakabayashi, CEO, Automotive & Mobility Group, Mitsubishi Corporation.

“To gain a downstream foothold in the rapidly growing Indian market, Mitsubishi has been fostering its relationship with TVS Mobility Group, including the investment in the after-sales services provider TVS Automobile Solutions (TASL). The latest investment in the multi-brand dealer TVS VMS widens Mitsubishi’s investment coverage through enhanced service capabilities even further and should propel its aim to develop comprehensive mobility solutions spanning not only after-sales services and multi-brand sales, but also vehicle-as-a-service models and other automotive operations.”

The Madurai-headquartered TVS Mobility Group appears to have hit the right lane for faster growth. The TVS family of the joint kind may have undergone a metamorphosis. Nevertheless, the pioneering spirit of the erstwhile TVS family persists post-legal separation as well!

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