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“Over the next 10 to 20 years, you will no longer see humans driving cars. Humans are dangerous as drivers and more susceptible to crashes,” asserts Greg Moran, the CEO and co-founder of Zoomcar.
According to research by Business Insider’s research arm BI Intelligence, 94 million connected cars are expected to ship in 2021, which will account for 82 percent of all cars shipped in that year. This translates into a CAGR of 35 percent from 21 million connected cars in 2016. So, Greg’s assertion does seem to be on track.
Zoomcar is India’s first app-based self-drive car rental company. Founded in 2013, by Greg Moran and David Back, the Bengaluru-based company offers services across 24 Indian cities.
Named one of the Top 10 Most Innovative Companies from India for 2017 by Fast Company, in January, Zoomcar announced the launch of Cadabra, its flagship full-stack solution to transform its 3,000-strong fleet into IoT-enabled vehicles. Equipped with Bluetooth and 4G cellular connectivity, Cadabra tracks several items of real-time in-car data and driver behaviour, including fuel levels, harsh braking, inconsistent acceleration, seat belt usage and engine health, among others
“Cadabra is a software-cum-hardware platform that is continuously evolving. We started small in terms of functionality, and slowly added more robust tracking and monitoring systems. This helps us give users feedback about where they need to improve. In short, we want to reduce the operating costs for the car, improve the uptime, and make the driver safer,” says Greg.
And, according to him, they’ve managed to do that: “We have already been able to reduce accidents by 35 percent over the last three months.”
Ask Greg about the key to the steady rise in the connected car space and he attributes it to automotive companies becoming more open with their data. He notes, “This is a good thing since companies like Zoomcar, Uber, Ola, and Lyft are very data-hungry.”
According to Greg, another factor steering the connected car market towards growth is the overall improvement in mobile data speed and networks globally. “Across the board, we are seeing vast improvements in mobile data and overall network connectivity. 5G is now coming up as the new network standard. So, all this will enable more connectivity features and more data transference over the next two to three years,” says Greg.
Marketplace in the making
With 75 percent occupancy and 1.5 million app downloads, Zoomcar is India’s largest app-based self-drive car rental company, and steadily growing.
The company has major plans to grow its fleet of cars rapidly, and shift completely to a marketplace model through its crowdsourced vehicle initiative Zoomcar Associate Program (ZAP). Under this, Zoomcar boosts its inventory by getting access to cars without buying the assets in full. This means Zoomcar gets to use the vehicle when the owner is at work, on vacation, or not using it.
“The marketplace model has been very successful for us so far. We are on track to have 4,000 cars in the marketplace by the beginning of next year. Going forward, most of the cars we take into our fleet are going to come from this programme,” he asserts.
On future plans for the company, Greg says, “We believe India is just the beginning for us. What we are building is very relevant and very contextual for markets such as Asia, Africa and other emerging economies. We believe we are solving a problem statement present in between 20 and 25 countries that are fairly significant in size. We just want to continue with our ethos of delivering better customer experiences related to transport.”
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