A close look: Cars24’s Mega Refurbishment Lab
Cars24 today has in place seven company-owned vehicle refurbishment centres (MRLs – Mega Refurbishment Labs) in the country
Multiple factors have fuelled the growth of the used car market in India, especially since Covid. Be it the need for personal mobility or a change in perception regarding used cars. And startups entering this space has boosted the market even more. Companies like Cars24, Cardekho and Spinny have raised over $ 1.5 billion in funding from top venture investors across the world. And this is just the beginning, the used car market is expected to reach over 70 lakh vehicles by 2025-26 (up from 38 lakh in 2020-21). Cars24 is the current market leader in the online used car space & the company has clocked over four lakh transactions to date.
It was in 2019 that Cars24 started refurbishing cars and selling them. Since they didn’t have infrastructure across India, it was obvious that they tied up with car repair workshops across India and formulated a plan for the refurbishing of cars. With growth however, the next logical step was to get total control over the entire process from start to end for the purpose of quality, standardisation & efficiencies-of-scale, and to ensure that the final product going on sale met certain quality standards. Cars24 today has in place seven company-owned vehicle refurbishment centres (MRLs – Mega Refurbishment Labs) in the country. These are in Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Hyderabad and Pune. In the first phase, the facilities across Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Chennai will be operational. We got to visit the facility just outside of Mumbai.
Mumbai operations at a glance
- Used cars are purchased and sent to Cars24 stockyard in Nerul.
- Cars are segregated based on their condition. Only those examples that have potential enter the MRL facility for refurbishment. The ones that don’t pass the quality checks of MRL (e.g. old, in bad condition, have structural damage or require engine / gearbox repairs) don’t enter the MRL facility (they are auctioned and sold off to third-parties directly from the yard).
- Cars that are relatively new, 4-5-year-old cars in decent condition are sent to the Mega Refurbishment Lab located on the Mumbai Nashik Highway ahead of Bhiwandi – Google Location.
- Cars are refurbished at the MRL and sent back to the stockyard from where they are sent to parking lots across Mumbai, which customers can visit to see the car and buy it OR Cars24 will bring the car to your doorstep. Do note that Cars24 offers 360-degree views of every car in its inventory on the app / website.
The Mega Refurbishment Lab is located on the Mumbai Nashik highway. You’ll see this big ‘Cars24’ branding from far:
The warehouse space is humongous. As of now, half of this space is being utilised by current operations:
A car that enters the MRL is registered into the logbook:
After the entry is made, the car is parked in the space surrounding the workshop:
There’s no preferential treatment for newer or more expensive cars. Cars are sent into the MRL according to the sequence they arrive in:
Given the high amount of water used in the facility, there’s a water purification system in place:
So, once it’s a car’s turn to get refurbished, it’s first washed thoroughly with a pressure washer:
Then the car is sent through this automatic car wash. This particular machine can wash a car in 6 mins:
The car is then taken for a preliminary test run to check for any issues:
Only after this, does the car enter the facility. First look on the inside, and the facility is truly big. Let’s start with what happens on the inside:
As mentioned earlier, the cars sent to the MRL are relatively new and without major repair work in them. This is the first step where all the issues with the car are inspected thoroughly and a pre-inspection report is made on the company mobile app. Post this, the team prepares an estimate of the work required for the vehicle. There’s an approval team in place who’ll go over the estimate and calculate the feasibility of the repair work. What does that mean? They’ll consider factors like – purchase price, possible selling price and the total cost of refurbishing. If the math fits perfectly, then the car is approved for a complete refurbishment:
Different bays have scissor lifts to lift the car and check the underbody:
The MRL in Delhi has this floor-mounted suspension and brake testing rig. As of now, the Mumbai facility doesn’t have this test rig:
An average of 3 hours is spent on each car in the pre-inspection area going over 140 checkpoints:
All cars go through basic service that includes oil and oil filter change. The air filter and AC filter are also changed on almost all cars, cleaned if they’re relatively new. At the MRL Mumbai, only basic mechanical repairs are done in this department:
At the MRL Mumbai, only suspension, brake and minor engine work are undertaken as of now. The ‘Major Repair’ board on the top is for some time in the future. The lathe work for the steering rack or minor repairs is currently being outsourced. See the light blue pipes from the top? These pipes provide compressed air that is used for different types of pneumatic tools like the wheel changer gun, removing dirt, etc. :
This is a waste oil collector. See the guy in the background filling a can?
… that’s the new engine oil being supplied by ‘Line 2’. Mechanics can directly take the required amount of oil for every car. Pretty convenient!
Apart from mechanical work, basic AC work is also carried out. AC temperature is checked and gas top-up is done if needed. If there’s any leakage in the system, the evaporator/cooling coil can also be changed here. The blue machine pictured is a semi-automatic AC gas recovery and recharge unit. One of the main advantages of this machine is that you can recirculate the AC gas and also detect leaks in the AC system:
Minor electrical work is also carried out at the MRL. In this picture, you can see a battery being charged:
The spare parts department works alongside the mechanical department. In a multi-brand environment, managing spare parts takes a lot of patience and precision. As of now, the spare parts are being outsourced to a third party company. Hence, Cars24 doesn’t own this inventory. There’s a Cars24 employee who coordinates between the MRL’s needs and the spare parts supplier to procure the necessary parts:
While the preference for all cars is OEM parts, depending on the budget and availability, aftermarket parts are used on some cars:
Aftermarket spares in the store were from good brands like Mahle, Monroe and Lumax. There’s been an interesting Team-BHP discussion regarding OEM spares and OES spares (Click here to read the discussion (Should you buy non-OEM spare parts for your car?)):
Here’s how the spare parts are arranged for a particular car before they’re sent to the workshop floor. Note that a car leaves the pre-inspection area only after all the parts as per the approval have arrived at the spare parts department. Till then, the car is not sent to the workshop floor to avoid cars getting stuck on the floor due to delays in parts:
R134A is the most common AC gas in modern cars:
Body shop parts are in a separate section. The most commonly required parts are headlights and bumpers:
After the mechanical work is done, the car is sent to the alignment machine:
If the tyres need to be changed, there’s a tyre changing machine on the right and next to it is the wheel balancing machine:
Continue reading about cars 24’s mega refurbishment facility for more insights and information.
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