As part of its drive to set up Automalls across India, Shriram Transport Finance Company has commissioned an Automall near PanvelTo associate the idea of an automall with a transport finance company may sound a bit far fetched. The reality is, Shriram Transport Finance Company has commissioned an automall near Panvel, Navi Mumbai. Fourth of the 50 automalls the company plans to invest into, across India, the one near Panvel comes within a span of six months of the inauguration of the Chennai automall. Spread over 2 lakh sq.ft, the Panvel Automall, like Shriram Transport Finance Company's three other auto malls, at Chennai, Gurgaon, and Vadodara respectively, gives access to the country's large community of truck-owners to trade their vehicles in a hassle-free manner. At the Shriram Automall, apart from trading the truck, the owner of the truck will be able to explore financing and insurance options as well. Also, minor and major repair facilities are on offer. Speaking at the inauguration of the Panvel automall, Mr P M Telang, MD - Indian Operations, Tata Motors, and chief guest, drew attention towards the changing operating conditions, and the firming up of the hub and spoke transportation model. Equipped with rest rooms for travel fatigued truck drivers and cleaners, the automall, according to Mr U G Revankar, Deputy Managing Director, Shriram Transport Finance Company, can hold a auction of 100 to 150 vehicles a day. While multiple auctions can be held in a month, the process, which promises transparency, also includes earth moving equipment, and passenger vehicles. Trucks, however, make up the majority of the lot. They include the smallest LCV available in India to the largest (50-tonne) HCV the Indian government allows to ply on Indian roads. Coming from a company that has had a long standing experience in financing autos, and commercial vehicles especially, the concept of automall auctions also involves tapping of vehicles that have been re-possessed by the financial institutions for non-payment of loans. Like the pioneering finance model the company explored some time ago, involving collaboration with local, smaller financiers to ensure a greater market reach, the chain of auto malls, when complete, should give the company a good reach across the country. Pointing at the trucks parked at the Panvel automall, Revankar averred, "We may invest a small amount to make auction vehicles road worthy. The percentage of refurbished (new look) trucks, or earth moving equipment that call for higher investment, is very small." Offering finance on vehicles bought at the auction, the company also offers the buyer an advantage of walking into any of its 500 offices in India, and negotiate for a vehicle in any part of India. A kiosk at each of the 500 Shriram offices offers a virtual truck bazaar to the transactor. The kiosk, apart from providing real time information about used commercial vehicles, also facilitates registration of individual buyer's requirements. With the experience at the Chennai mall having been very good, work on bigger malls at Hyderabad and Jaipur is underway, according to Revankar. Tying up with banks, and other institutions to auction their vehicles, through the malls, the company has been conducting 5000 transactions on an average per month. "Interesting is the fact that even tractor manufacturers have requested us to hold tractor auctions," quipped Revankar. He added, "We at Shriram Transport aim to bring more transparency while buying and selling used commercial vehicles, and provide best service to our customers. The automall is one such stop, which facilitates the same, and will also assist registration of an individual buyer's requirement. Looking at executing 8000 transactions per month, the company feels that the automall will benefit truckers in promptly replacing their vehicles, leading to modernization of the country's trucking fleet. Auguring well for Shriram Transport Finance Company, which has a customer base exceeding 800,000, and in the last 30 years, has helped replace nearly 20 lakh trucks by providing affordable acquisition credit to the small truck operators, the automall culture is poised to change the way commercial vehicle and earth moving equipment transactions have been carried out until now.