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TVS Motor leverages the power of tech through investments in start-ups

Automotive major TVS Motor is betting big on several next-generation technologies that are directly relevant to its business. The Chennai-headquartered company, through its wholly-owned subsidiary TVS Motor (Singapore) Pte Limited invested around $16.57 million last financial year in several new age start-ups engaged in areas like analytics, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, machine learning and Internet of Things (IoT). The idea is to leverage these technologies to improve its efficiency and product quality, and address real-life business challenges, going forward. 

TVS Motor’s investments are focused on automotive and fintech industries that are direct relevant to the company and its subsidiaries. Apart from using the inorganic route to acquire these capabilities, it is also building some of these solutions in-house.

According to a report by Motilal Oswal, in 2019-20, TVS Singapore made a cumulative investment of $16.57 million across four companies that specialise in areas such as IoT, predictive maintenance and credit underwriting. These include three US-based companies --- Altizon Inc, Predictronics and Scienaptics -- and one Singapore-based firm, Tagbox. During the year, TVS Motor had invested SGD 26.48 million in the ordinary shares of TVS Motor (Singapore) Pte Ltd.

Tagbox Solutions Private Limited in which TVS picked up a 24.3 per cent stake for Rs 26.6 crore, provides IoT-based solutions for sensing, monitoring and analysis across supply-chain activities. In the US-based Predictronics Corporation, which provides AI-driven predictive maintenance analytics solutions, TVS Motors picked up 23.5 per cent stake. The goal is to reduce unplanned downtime, increase productivity and improve product quality.

Altizon Inc, in which TVS Motor picked up a 14.1 per cent stake, specialises in industrial internet of things (IIoT) catering to manufacturing industries. The idea behind this investment, say industry experts, is to integrate machine data with related information from other IT systems on the shopfloor, in order to build a manufacturing data lake. Analysis of this data can bring visibility and predictability into its manufacturing value chain and make the system cost-efficient.

Scienaptics Systems Inc, in which TVS Motor picked up 17 per cent, uses AI-enabled platform 'Ether' to provide risk and credit-assessment solutions and monitor evolving fraud patterns.

According to analysts, TVS Motor generates a huge volume of data from across its manufacturing units and aftermarket operations. With investments in start-ups, the company now has access to IoT and machine learning technologies that could help it rationalise and optimise the entire component supply chain and improve manufacturing efficiency. Moreover, these technologies can be leveraged for group companies as well.

For example, Scienaptics, in which it invested this February, is helping the company combine big data, machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies on its decision platform ‘Ether’. Solutions built on ‘Ether’ help enterprises improve risk and credit assessment, monitor evolving fraud patterns, and improve customer experience, it said.

Rajesh Narasimhan, a board member at TVS Motor, had earlier said that the company evaluated many start-ups providing big data analytics and risk management solutions before investing in Scienaptic. Narasimhan added that Scienaptic’s end-to-end data analytics solution, with applicability in various industries, has the potential to generate a new profit stream for the $8.5 billion TVS Group company.

Previously, TVS had invested in electric bike maker Ultraviolette Automotive Pvt. Ltd and RentOnGo, an online marketplace for renting bikes and appliances.

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