We have been observing the intensive battle of used car platforms in China draws to a close. A key phenomenon of that is more and more investors from China are asking us about the market in Southeast Asia – How big is the market potential (versus that of China)? Who are the leading players? Which model works out the best? 

Actually, we have been observing the used car market in the region. From the listing sites iCar Asia and OLX, to the competition of Carro, Carsome and BeliMobilGue (BMG), as well as the move of Indian platform CarDekho into the market – it has never been quiet. 

The challenges traditionally facing this market are the same as in China or other bigger markets: fragmented channels and lack of information transparency. However, Southeast Asia has its inherent challenges as each country’s ecosystem is slightly different, making it more complicated for players to build a truly regional platform. 

Carsome’s $50m series C

Just this week, Carsome, a Southeast Asia focused used car trading platform, announced its US$50 million Series C funding. New investors include MUFG Innovation Partners (the corporate venture capital (CVC) of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG)), Daiwa Private Investments (the private equity arm of Daiwa Securities) and Ondine Capital from China. Existing investors including Gobi Partners and Convergence Ventures also topped up. 

Carsome leadership team

Carsome claims 40,000 cars transacting through the platform every year, with a value exceeding US$300 million. The platform penetrated the market through its C2B offering, allowing consumers to very quickly sell their cars to dealers. The platform arranges inspection and ownership transfer.  More than 6000 dealers across over 50 cities in Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia participate in the platform’s bidding process. Compared to its main competitors Carro and BMG, Carsome has been quiet in the press, probably because of the practical style of the founders. 

With the new funding round, the company is expected to roll out in more countries and cities across the region, and scale up its financing offering through working with banks and non-banking financial institutions. Carsome also looks to expand its offering from C2B to C2B2C, closing the used car trading loop. 

MUFG’s participation is interesting. The Group owns Bank Danamon in Indonesia (which in turn owns Adira Finance, a leading auto financing company), as well as Krungsri Bank, a large lender in Thailand. 

Intensified competition

The market is heating up, just a few weeks ago, Carro announced a US$30 million round into Malaysia based used car bidding platform MyTukar. The number seems to be exaggerated but the intensified competition is real. In August, BMG announced a $30 million funding round from its parent, Frontier Car Group from Germany.

BMG tapped Johnny Widodo, a former OVO executive, as CEO recently

CarDekho’s CEO allegedly spends quite a bit of time in Southeast Asia now, a signal that their ambition is beyond Carmudi’s Philippine business, which CarDekho just acquired. 

Who will win?

One thing is certain – the penetration of all the platform combined is still limited, meaning there is a lot of room for growth. With the complexity of the market and current funding environment, unlikely the players will repeat the money burning game that was carried out in China. Who will win eventually will depend on strategy, execution and the focus of the team. 

As requested by many investor friends, Momentum Works is preparing a report on Southeast Asia’s used car market. This will be a systematic assessment of opportunities, challenges, the ecosystem as well as the various players/business models. 

We expect to release the report by the Lunar New Year – watch this space! 

Thanks for reading The Low Down (TLD), the blog by the team at Momentum Works. Got a different perspective or have a burning opinion to share? Let us know at hello@mworks.asia.