With Electric Vehicles, The Vehicle Service Industry Will Undergo The Biggest Disruption

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With electric vehicles (EVs) becoming mainstream in India, how is the vehicle service sector responding? As this sector employs a large fraction of individuals from India’s auto industry, what are the top challenges it faces? Afdhel Abdul Wahab, Director of Indus Motors, shares his thoughts.

Electric vehicles (EVs) are a welcome change. Most of the passenger car industry supports what the government is aiming for in India regarding clean mobility. However, the disruption at the dealership level will be phenomenal and will play a crucial role in India’s aim of achieving carbon neutrality.

A dealership or a vehicle OEM’s channel can be divided into two categories: sales and service. The disruption on the sales side is happening without even much happening on the EV front in India. This includes more and more online conversations and negotiations on the price, final deal, and comparisons between different models, all taking place outside dealerships.

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On the service front, the disruption is arising from the fact that EVs are very different from internal combustion engine passenger cars. This is because the former is mostly electronics, and the latter is still primarily mechanical.

Car servicing: A completely different world

In case the government of India is able to convert all the cars to electric in the next 10 to 15 years, we might witness a whole different mobility ecosystem than what we are accustomed to today. Whether the industry embraces the change or not, we all must accept it. For sure, many machines and equipment used in service centres will become obsolete in the years to come.

In terms of sales, the factors like a car’s ‘touch and feel’ before making the final purchase decision will always be crucial. While more enablers of sales, like e-commerce, will join the game, the experience will largely remain the same as it is today.

Around 5500 out of 7000 employees who work with Indus Motors are in the service vertical. It is important to note here that Indus Motors is just one dealer in the vast network of Maruti Suzuki, which has a mammoth number of employees involved in the service vertical. The total number of employees working with the top five dealers of Maruti Suzuki is much larger than the total number of employees working with the vehicle OEMs.

At the moment, servicing passenger cars is a capital- and human-oriented activity. “From my experience of owning a Tesla in Dubai, I can tell you that the aforementioned aspect of the car service industry is going to change drastically. This Tesla has been with us for over three years, and we have taken it to a workshop zero times,” says Abdul Wahab.

Taking that into consideration, the number of people, infrastructure, equipment and machinery, and many other aspects involved in the service industry are heading towards a significant disruption.

What happens to the workforce: The challenge and opportunity

It is certain that the shift towards EVs would be gradual if it happens in its entirety. This implies that there would be enough time available for the dealers and vehicle OEMs to reskill and upskill their existing workforce around what is required tomorrow. The future service centres will house new gadgets and gizmos that will be used to test, service, and repair EVs.

This presents an opportunity for dealers to collaborate with academic institutions, education centres, organisations, and agencies specialising in reskilling and upskilling workforces to prepare for the disruption that is coming. National and local education institutions also need to develop content and courses that can help the dealers’ employees and aftermarket mechanics in this shift.

The EV disruption in India is anticipated to start from the luxury car segment and trickle down towards the mass segments. For instance, Maruti Suzuki will launch its first EV in India sometime during the second half of 2024. The move will also clearly depict what India perceives about EVs, as Maruti Suzuki is the largest-selling car brand here.

“To explain this in a nutshell, the cars of tomorrow will require a much greater care from technicians than from the present-day mechanics,” opines Abdul Wahab. Yes, parts like hydraulics, steering functions, tires, and some other mechanical stuff will remain the same, but the workforce required to cater to these needs will be significantly less. Moreover, the automotive electronics that are being introduced in cars of today have reached sophistication levels that require a much greater attention of the technicians.

In a way, modern automotive electronics have already hinted at where we are headed and what the future will look like.

The disruption will also include new players entering the market. Indus Motors is also dealer for startup Ather that has built phenomenal electric scooters in India. The differences between the traditional OEMs and these new-age OEMs can easily be felt in their corporate office and manufacturing premises.


Afdhel Abdul Wahab is Director at Indus Motors. Predominantly a Maruti Suzuki dealer, Indus Motors retails nearly 45,000 cars in a year and employs around 7000 people. It is one of the country’s largest, if not the largest, passenger car retail dealership networks

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Mukul Yudhveer Singh
Mukul Yudhveer Singh
Mukul Yudhveer Singh is an Editor at EFY. He’s an experienced business journalist who is both an enthusiast and a cynic of technology. Believes in data, as well as hunch-based journalism. He defines journalism as- reporting facts which help the audience take their own decisions, not ones that influence them!

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