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Startups

Used-auto seller Cars24 becomes India's newest unicorn

AI-based pricing popular as virus-wary commuters steer clear of mass transit

More Indians are buying cars as incomes rise and people avoid public transportation amid the pandemic. (Photo by Akira Hayakawa)

TOKYO -- Cars24 Services, an online marketplace for used vehicles, has entered the ranks of Indian unicorns after raising $200 million in a round led by Hong Kong-based private equity firm DST Global.

With this money, the company will "invest aggressively" in technology and service innovation, for example, according to the startup now valued above $1 billion.

Used cars are conventionally priced based on such information as model year. Cars24 employs artificial intelligence and such big data as resale value and supply and demand for specific models.

Sellers have their autos evaluated online in advance to simplify inspections and other work at Cars24 branches. The vehicles are auctioned off to fetch the highest prices.

Higher incomes in India are fueling a shift from two-wheelers to cars. With the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are also avoiding public transportation and choose to travel in their own cars. Although sales of pre-owned vehicles temporarily slipped during lockdown, the company said they now exceed pre-coronavirus levels.

Founded in 2015, Cars24 has U.S.-based Sequoia Capital among its investors and said its annual sales exceed 200,000 units.

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