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Most of us, when visiting malls, have watched in awe at the parking system that lifts cars, allowing them to be stacked up. For some, the joy ends there, while others tend to think a bit more about the system, the way it works, and its price. But what most fail to understand is the business itself and the industry behind it. Although it is in its nascent stage, the industry is a ₹1500 crore business, as per RR Parkon’s research.
PR Parkon is a Mumbai-based company that specialises in automated parking solutions with over two decades of experience in India. To know more about the business, we spoke to Rajesh Kabra, the Director of RR Parkon.
Speaking to Rajesh to know more about the business and how it came into being, Rajesh said, "We are into the car parking business, and we shrink verticals. We can typically double your parking spots by helping you park one car on top of the other, and if you have the height, our business can transform a three-car slot to park up to 70 cars." He adds, "We have been in this business for 20 years. The business was the vision of my father, and when he went to Korea, he saw these systems being used widely. Back in Mumbai, when he saw so many cars parked on the road, which was a major contributor to traffic, that’s when he got the idea and eventually came into this business."
Speaking about where the products are made, the lifts and the parking systems, Rajesh said, "We are indigenous. India has good engineering potential, and we can manufacture a lot of stuff within the country. There are a few parts that we import, but 98% of our products are made in the country, and we are proud of that. We also have the second-largest manufacturing facility in the world for car parking solutions. Our factories are state-of-the-art facilities with automated processes for fabrication, welding, painting, etc. I can say that our factories are modern facilities to make most everything in India."
The parking systems being sophisticated, Rajesh said that the software needed has to be on par. "We have qualified people who write these programs. For example, our parking systems need to detect if the vehicle is parked accurately on the lift mechanism. It needs to inform drivers if they need to move forward or backwards. All this requires software backup, and we develop them." With the ongoing pandemic, RR Parkon is working on touch-free systems that use RFIDs so customers can use these cards, and a tap would bring the cars down from the lifts. Rajesh says, "We are working on an app as well, so customers can have their cars ready at a pre-determined time and have other features integrated such as payments." He adds, "We have been an engineering company for so many years, but going forward, we might be a tech company for the next 20 years with the increase in technology."
Rajesh tells us, "The automated parking business will grow to be a USD 10 billion industry in the next ten years. For example, Delhi is looking at an average of 1000 new cars every day, and each car requires approximately 330 square feet to park. So when we calculate, Delhi alone needs 3,30,000 square feet of parking space every day. Although the public transport system and the metro has made lives easier, it hasn’t stopped people from buying cars."
The key factors that will drive this business are one, the government looking to decongest the roads, secondly, the rise of construction cost is driving people to look for alternatives, and this is one of the solutions, and, the increase in car sales being the third factor. Rajesh adds, "Earlier, we saw demand from Tier I cities, and recently, there are demands from Tier II and Tier III cities."
India is no doubt transitioning to electric vehicles, and given that cars are parked for a minimum of one hour at malls and other commercial establishments, integrating EV chargers seems to be a good idea. To this, Rajesh says, "The development is in progress. We have been receiving customer requests for the same. While it’s easy to integrate chargers in some of our systems, it is a challenge with other products because the cars are parked 15 metres off the ground. Some of our parking systems even move horizontally, so these things need to be considered." RR Parkon has prototypes ready, and in the next six months, the company will have a solution to integrate EV chargers into their parking systems.
"The products manufactured by RR Parkon have safety systems in place to protect the structures from floods. They are rated to withstand damage caused by water. Our systems were installed in Chennai when the city was affected by the flood, and we had no problems. They are designed to withstand seismic activities as well," says Rajesh. The parking systems are designed to last 25 to 30 years, and a team of dedicated engineers maintain the parking systems every three months.
RR Parkon has a dedicated plant that spans 1.7 lakh square feet, situated on the outskirts of Mumbai. The facility exports these parking systems to Uganda, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Nepal, East Africa, and other neighbouring countries. RR Parkon’s turnover was ₹150 crores, and this year, Rajesh says, "Despite the second jolt from the lockdown, we are on track to achieve a ₹200 crore turnover."