In addition to periodic services and warranties, Roadside Assistance (RSA) Service is also an important aspect of after-sales services. While many OEMs already offer this service to customers, they are all subject to some terms or conditions, which do not always work in favour of the consumer. Thus, to make roadside assistance more accessible, a Mumbai-based automobile engineer Sagar Joshi, launched an aggregator service for garages and local mechanics called Auto i Care, which promises to offer 24 hours RSA service anywhere in India within 20 to 30 minutes.
Speaking to carandbike, Sagar Joshi, the Founder of Auto i Care said, "The concept of starting a roadside assistance service germinated in my head during a family trip to Shirdi when the car failed. We did not have tools to repair and the authorised service centre didn't send mechanic as it was beyond their time of functioning. That got me started on thinking of starting my own venture where I could provide travellers with 24 hours roadside assistance."
Auto i Care was started in 2019, after 3 years of R&D work and collating data of various local garages and mechanics across India. The company aggregated 18,000 garages and local mechanics across the national highways and state highways, mainly non-organised players, who had at least 100 sq.ft. office area. The focus was on services like puncture/tyre change, battery jump start or other small mechanical problems that could be fixed on the spot. However, in the event of a major issue or accident where the vehicle needs to go to a garage or service centre, Auto i Care also offers access to towing services. Depending on the spare part, Auto i Care also offers free service or replacement warranty, which can be availed anywhere across India, irrespective of where the repair work was originally carried out.
Joshi further added, "A person can get in touch with us in 2 ways 1) Helpline number and 2) Mobile app where car service is available in 4 clicks. Now we have grown to a 48,000 strong database covering 998 cities and villages and covering 2,28,000 kilometres nationwide. Auto i Care has tie-up with a minimum of 2 garages for every 10 kilometres." When support is requested, the app will provide real-time tracking of the inbound support vehicle with an estimated time of arrival, automated SMS status updates, and tow driver contact information. The mobile application is currently only available for Android phones, but the company says that it will launch the iOS version soon.
During this lockdown period, Auto i Care has serviced nearly 5,500+ vehicles, with special priority given to essential service vehicles like ambulances, police vehicles, vehicles of doctors. On average, nearly 1200 service request are addressed every day. "Countrywide we got 70 per cent calls for a battery jump start and battery change, 20 per cent for towing services and 10 per cent for tyre and clutch and other repair work. In April and May, associates from Auto i Care changed 450 car batteries in Mumbai alone," Joshi added.
Talking about what's next for Auto i Care Founder Sagar Joshi said, "The future looks bright for Auto i Care as we have major expansion plans. We are in process of starting our own standalone Auto i Care service centres across the highways. These service centres will have standardised rates throughout the country. We are also planning to introduce car repair on EMI, which will be a unique concept where vehicle owners will be able to do major repairs which a car needs on EMI without burning a big hole in their wallet. All the necessary R&D has been completed for the same. We have many more concepts which will be introducing to the Indian markets and will most certainly be a game-changer in the automobile service industry."
While right now Auto i Care doesn't really have a direct rival, apart for directory service Just Dial, and ReadyAssist. However, once the standalone Auto i Care service centres are launched, it will have to compete with the likes of GoMechanic.