Text & Photo: J Srikant


Universal Automotive, a known name in auto servicing in the national capital region, has decided to enter auto component manufacturing as the industry hopes to rebound from the longest slowdown it has experienced. Started as Universal Auto Traders in 1953, Universal Automotive specialises in service of diesel engines and fuel injection equipment.

Harsh Chotani, Director, Universal Automotives (1)We have decided to get into manufacturing of auto components to increase our presence in the market,” said Harsh Chotani, Director, Universal Automotive. “We have shortlisted a few components that we will look at to kick-start our manufacturing initiative.” One of the main products the company has shortlisted, and the most likely for initial manufacturing, is casting metal products. “The idea is to not manufacture products for which we provide services to our clients.” Chotani said the main investment will be for acquiring machinery for new production. The investment he is expecting to make is in the range of Rs 2 to Rs 3 crore initially, to be ramped up gradually. The manufacturing unit will be set up at their Manesar plant itself.


Universal Automotive had its roots in the Kashmiri Gate market, which is one of the biggest markets for auto components in Asia; it moved to Punjabi Bagh and then to Manesar in 2012 to cater to expanding business. “Need for space was not the only reason for us to open a new unit at Manesar. We also wanted to increase our proximity to our clients,” said Chotani. He also informed that most of their business, close to 50% of the revenue, comes from the commercial vehicle segment. Manesar is one of the biggest centres for transporters in the NCR where a huge congregation of commercial vehicles is present. This gives the company a huge catchment area to service and supply. The company gets around 150 vehicles per month for servicing. This includes, along with the commercial vehicles, passenger vehicles, the ground fleet of aviation companies and construction equipment.

Starting with Scindia Bus service as its first client, where it converted petrol vehicles to diesel, Universal Automotive claims that today almost all aviation companies’ right from Indigo, SpiceJet, to Go Air and Air India are its clients. Its other customers include Bosch, Volvo, Cummins, Caterpillar, ZF Power Steering and Deutz. The number of clients for the company stands at over 5,000 today including dealerships of passenger cars.

Along with the servicing of diesel engines, they are also into dealerships for some products of these companies as well. Some of these are Bosch 611 Fuel Injection Test Bench, Deutz diesel engines, ZF Power Steering Systems, ZF Hydraulic Power Steering System and MANN oil filters.

One of the problems that Chotani said in growing the business is the large number of counterfeit products available in the aftermarket. “A lot of the time we lose business because people opt for counterfeit products, sometimes knowingly and sometimes unknowingly,” he said. He believes the slowdown helped them a little as people delayed buying new vehicles and kept the old ones. But it hit them in a different way as a lot of his clients defaulted on payments citing the slowdown as the reason.

To keep its business niche, Universal Automotive has decided to work only on German made engines as they are much more sophisticated and require more specialization. Chotani said this is to evade local competition which works on much lower costs that he can’t match. There are around 55 employees in the company who are trained to work on these engines. The company handles engines made by Volvo, Deutz, Caterpillar, Isuzu and Cummins. “The other step that we are taking is that we are now trying to concentrate on the passenger car segment, especially the premium brands like Audi, BMW, and Porsche,” he added.

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