Self-drive Cars - The Next Big Trend in India’s Travel Industry
Gone are the days when you could find a self-drive car on rent only in Goa! Back then and back there, you would have to break your head over finding the best prices and at the same time getting your hands on the best possible vehicle in the market. Those were the days of an unorganized self-drive car rental space in India.
Having your friends and family coming over for a long weekend? Bored of driving your own vehicle and wanting to try your hands on a different car? Used to owning your own car but somehow stranded without one? Peak hour rush in all modes of public transport horrifying you? Or just afraid of running the risk of being fleeced by local autowallahs and taxiwallahs in a new town? Whatever your reason may be, multiple options are now available to rent a self-drive car for you at your own discretion. This recent evolution of the self-drive car rental space has been an outcome of the increased awareness of embracing the shared economy amongst India’s GEN Y. In short, a self-drive car on rent offers one the privilege of having his/her own car without having to own it in principle.
This new avatar of the organized Self-drive Cars concept started fledgling in India in 2013-14. Since then, the Self-Drive Car Rental industry has evolved significantly following the demands of the market. However, renting a car and driving it yourself is still an embryonic concept that negates the need for buying a car. India being a developing country with infrastructure being a big constraint, most cities in India are still facing issues of traffic congestions and limited parking spaces. Therefore, one has seen that our younger generation in the age group of 25-35 years is particularly attracted to this idea of car rentals, defying the conventional Indian household preference of owning at least one car in the house. This is also to do with the fact that a large proportion of this population is working in their nonnative cities, and therefore investing in the liability of a car does not really appeal to them. Thus over the course of last 3 years, many startups have sprung up gradually to provide or aggregate affordable car rentals for the youngsters who want to get away from the hustle bustle and stress of the modern day work environment at the first chance they can grab – be it long weekends, scheduled breaks or just unplanned trips.
To satiate the demand of this emerging trend, MyChoize, a self-drive cars brand owned by ORIX, Japan’s second largest self-drive car rental company recently launched its operations in 9 Indian cities including Bangalore, Pune, Mumbai, Delhi-NCR, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkata, Jaipur and Ahmedabad. One of the many things that differentiate MyChoize from its competitors is that they are breaking the conventions of car rentals in India by providing cars only by the hour with no capping on the kilometer usage or running of the car.
The World View
Self-drive cars on rent is a popular concept in the West and like all other things, has been well imitated in India by a few early startup companies in their nascence like ZoomCar, Voler, Revv and JustRide. However, with the bigger, deep pocketed and experienced international players like ORIX now considering India as a viable market for their Self Drive business, the idea of self drive is just about to get a lot more serious in India. Orix is also looking to invest USD 25 – 30 Million in this vertical over the next 2 years towards fleet enhancement, technology and opening up additional locations.
ORIX is already the largest B2B Car Rental player in India, and having captured the B2B chauffeur driven car market, entering the B2C self-driven car market was just a matter of time for the international conglomerate. With more and more options being available for a chauffeur driven cars, it is the inherent factors of lack of privacy in cabs, compromising on an extra seat and the thrill of being self driven that are helping the idea of self drive cars become more popular by the day in India.
We at ORIX interacted with our customers and felt there is a strong need to address this situation where the customers not only needed well maintained cars but also demanded the privacy of only their loved ones. MyChoize Self Drive cars thus became our answer for this need of our users, giving the users a choize of using our amazing cars across Hatchbacks, Sedans, Luxury Cars, SUVs and MUVs with their choize of privacy… so that they can start enjoying their journey as they wish with their near and dear ones without having to wait to reach their destination. To top it up and be true to our promise to our users, we introduced the Mychoize flavor of car rentals in India with no kilometer capping, thus offering unlimited kilometers on all bookings for our users. Best things in the World are said to be free, and unlimited kilometers is our way of telling our user that their choize of our cars is among the best in the World. This we believe will help our users to enjoy their journey to the fullest, by concentrating on counting their memories, not kilometers.
Technology – Enabler or Differentiator?
The factor that has most contributed to the development of this self-drive vertical and shall continue to define its existence is the coming of age of technology and the startling innovations and advancements in the maps and navigation fields. Right from being found, being ordered for, and being used – self-drive rental companies would have been gasping for breath if not for technology being a crucial enabler.
But having been all praises about the role of technology in this business vertical, we cannot afford to overlook the value that human touch renders in the service industry. Be it in the form of warmth expressed at the time of delivering the vehicle or a pleasant conversation with a customer care executive, there are some things that technology cannot replace. Differentiation often comes in the form of this human touch and value adding benefits that the company shall endeavor to provide to its customers along with a standard manufactured car and amazing technology. Prices too tend to remain a perpetual differentiator in a commoditized industry.
About the Author: Sandeep Gambhir, Managing Director and CEO of ORIX India is an avid reader and a sports enthusiast. He has been at the helm of things at ORIX since January 2013 during which he has steered the company to operational profitability while also ensuring ORIX’s entry into several hitherto unexplored business verticals. Before ORIX, Sandeep has held leadership positions at various financial conglomerates including a Managing Director role of Barclays Finance, Sales and Distribution Head and CFO at CitiFinancial. With MyChoize, Sandeep is hopeful of providing Indian users the Best in World Japanese service and technology at Indian prices.