Som Auto, an authorised dealer of Hero two-wheelers in Dhenkanal, is known for its distinct service delivery. Its proprietor Harshavardhan Singhdeo transformed his dream of becoming a successful businessman into reality through his consistent efforts for the past 16 years. Harshavardhan, a member of Dhenkanal’s Royal family, initially didn’t have any idea of foraying into two-wheeler business. But, he was able to harness the opportunities provided by Hero Company and this ultimately paid off. Harshavardhan finds time to sit with Orissa POST and share his experience…

How did you deal with the dip in sales during and after Covid?

The shutdowns imposed during Covid-19 affected sales as manufacturing had come to a halt. A few employees also lost their jobs. Even after the lifting of Covid restrictions, the business could not pick up because of financial ruin. Hero Company supported us a lot during those difficult times. The company lowered its interest rate and provided us with ample stock. Even finance companies extended loans to customers. However, we are yet to see the pre-Covid sales. It will take some more time to get back to normalcy. Rupee has depreciated to Rs 83 in 2023 from Rs 71 in 2019 which has pushed up the price of imported components of vehicles. This is adversely affecting our sales.

What are the major problems of the automobile industry in the country?

There are various laws for the automobile industry in India. There is a liquidity crisis due to the high rate of unemployment. Undue hikes in petrol prices and unavailability of semiconductors are also adversely affecting the two-wheeler and four-wheeler business.

How can the sales/services of vehicles be improved?

First, it is essential to provide facilities and services to customers. Resolution of issues and availability of better and easier loan facilities at the showroom will significantly improve the business. Enabling the sale of vehicles across digital platforms has given a boost to the business. Choosing and purchasing vehicles online has become a popular practice post Covid. We have provided our customers with the option of servicing their vehicles at their doorstep. In case of accidents or breakdowns, we are providing on-the-spot instant service, once we are informed.

How has been the journey of Som Auto?

Som Auto started its operations in 2007. In the past 15 years, we have clocked the sales of 40,000 vehicles and provided service to almost twice the number of our customers. The tireless efforts of the workers and the goodwill of customers have made the journey successful.

How optimistic are you about the electric vehicle (EV) market?

Commercial vehicles are going to be replaced by EVs in the future. Even two-wheelers and three-wheelers will be transformed into electric ones. India has registered sale of 4.5 lakh EVs between April and September of 2022. Hero Company is planning an extensive network of charging stations. The government is providing subsidies and encouraging EVs as these are environmentally friendly. The government is also expected to come up with stringent laws in this regard in near future. Demand for EVs has now increased by 22 per cent.

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