Automotive accessories are com-monly referred to as in-car enter-tainment systems, extra lamps, security systems, sun films, floor mats, graphics, chrome embellishments and more. In terms of sales, the auto accessories market is big. The list is however big, and the market bigger. To be more precise, the auto accessories is currently estimated at Rs 1,500 crore and divided between the organised sector and the unorganised sector. Expected to touch the Rs 2,400 crore mark by the year 2012, the organised sector makes up a little more than 40% of the auto accessories market. Names like Bosch, Nippon, Sony, Silicon Autoproducts, Micro VBB, Garware and Autocop are some of the names that make up the organised sector. With rising awareness, the clout of the organised sector is growing, and a new trend is driving newer players like JVC, Harmon Kardon, JBL and others to set up distributors and service outlets in India. While most of the names above may speak about areas like in-car entertainment, infotainments, GPS and stuff that is largely electronic is nature, there are players in the organised sector that are handling different spectrums like performance accessories and embellishments. Players like Bangalore-based Stanley offer stitch able leather steering covers off the shelf as well as customised interior trim solutions like leather upholstery for those interested. Players like Pete’s of Cochin are offering performance modifications. There are also the small players like Mumbai-based Auto Mech Engineers and Pune-based Rajeev Ranadive who offer more customised performance and cosmetic enhancement. The products offered by Auto Mech and Rajeev are such that they blur the boundary between auto accessories and replacement parts. Says Vivek Bhat of Auto Mech, “We are not an accessory manufacturer. We are into the manufacture of replacement parts. An accessory is something that is added to a vehicle and not replaced.” Mumbai-based Auto Mech manufactures customised (free-flow) exhaust as well as replacement exhaust parts. Rajeev Ranadive owns a company that does vehicle engineering, prototyping and testing, and is also into executing modifications like supercharging. Rajeev’s company is also the sole representative of Rotrex superchargers in India.
Speaking about performance accessories or add-ons, and apart from Rajeev, Pune is known to have a few more tuning and performance accessory centres. Many are springing up across the country and offer both, performance as well as cosmetic accessories and add-ons. Even dealers are known to carve a niche. What works as a good value addition, and beyond the regular goodies like mats, stereos and other accessories they sell, dealers like Linkway Honda of Mumbai are known to offer performance add-ons from Mugen. Away from purely performance accessory marketers and installers, and there are the multi-brand operators in the organised space. These include a TVS Group venture, Carplus and a Reliance Industries’ venture, Reliance Autozone. Stretching the envelope wide, the Reliance Autozone, through its outlets spread across India, focuses on service of multi make passenger cars and two-wheelers under one roof, retail of two-wheelers and pre-owned cars, retail and installation of accessories, tyres and batteries. In other words, it offers a comprehensive solution to all vehicle owners. Carplus, at the other end, also has its outlets spread across India and has over 4,000 different products on stock, from various brands, manufacturers and dealerships.
At the unorganised end, the majority is made up of traders and importers who import, sell and even install accessories sourced from China, the Far East, Japan and many other foreign markets. The imports, which also include big ticket items like turbos, superchargers and more, reflect the demand that exists for automotive accessories in this country. Ask a industry source, and he is quick to point out that rising awareness and exposure to technology is driving the Indian auto market, and the same parameters apply to the auto accessories market.
Expected to grow by 20-25%, the Indian auto accessories market is also providing for the traditional old markets a chance to re-emerge. Old markets like the CST road market at Kurla in Mumbai is proving to be a hunting ground for a brave few for accessories, and especially those that are hard to come by. Even the Mayapuri market in Delhi is frequented by some car owners. Risks are high in such markets. They however do little to deter a motorist.
The driving force behind the old markets as well as accessories outlets that are found in almost each and town and city is price and choice. Most are unable to offer service; warranties are almost unheard of. Yet many, on the premise of costs, prefer such locations. Accessories may be functional or cosmetic, therefore they are highly aspirational. Their demand reflects the potential they hold. This is also the reason why small enterprises as well as a big players like Bosch and Rotrex are interested.