As the demand for personal mobility increases due to the COVID-19 crisis, vehicle rental companies see a bright opportunity to provide apt solutions
Everybody is gradually looking towards rising out of the current health emergency, more are attracted to the benefits of personal transport. And since everybody either cannot or does not want to invest in a brand new vehicle, car rental looks like the better interim solution towards safe mobility. One of the leading companies providing such rental solutions in Zoomcar has seen a significant amount of growth in the past few months. We had a discussion with Greg Moran, CEO and Co-Founder Zoomcar, to shed give us some insights on his views on the car rental scenario in India.
ATR_What kind of new habits do you foresee in the general populous in regards to mobility? With the travel industry expected to suffer due to COVID-19 crisis, does Zoomcar see increased opportunities in the urban commuting environment?
Greg Moran_We expect to see a significant spike in demand for personal mobility post lockdown and are preparing for a 4 to 5 times hike in demand in the coming months. There is an exponential spike in demand expected for car subscriptions as well. Especially considering the current recession, car subscriptions can prove to be a better option than ride-hailing and also as a more affordable and quicker way of acquiring a car, delivering a safe personal mobility replacement. We have multiple options for a subscription but the shift in demand has been towards one, three, and six months, car subscriptions for intercity usage will see an upward trend. With novel subscription and a promise of guaranteed sanitisation of cars after every use, Zoomcar’s subscription programme also gives various personalised policy options to subscribers to partially ease the impact of the Covid-19 related lockdowns
We anticipate a significant increase in car subscriptions post Covid-19, as consumers look to avoid public transport without the burden of car ownership. Zoomcar has already been keeping busy during the lockdown with its associations and partnerships with essential service providers, and government bodies. Car subscriptions will continue to evolve and grow into more flexible plans and longer durations of leases ending 12, 24, or 36 months. The last couple of months have been quite a wild ride for everyone and particularly for those in the mobility sector. But the last few weeks in May, we began to gradually build up operations and saw bookings and subscriptions come back in a strong way. We are already seeing a 400 percent rise in demand and we expect this to settle down at 200-300 percent over the next few months.
People are now looking for shorter-term mobility access as opposed to a long term investment. We have seen a rise in demand for cars for personal work and emergency use cases. Rentals for intercity travel are up and a lot of people are opting for one way travel. The notion of owning a car amidst such an intensifying emphasis on social distance may have taken the backseat. Still, the necessity of a mobility service remains as relevant as before. As people would avoid public transport to keep themselves safe from contracting the virus, the need for rental cars will only go up. The industry is looking at various car subscription models to serve the needs of the customers. We also see more demand for in-city trips compared to outstation ones and a strong focus on shorter-term subscriptions. Our focus will be to diversify on this front and ensure we are covering all cities
ATR_In our earlier interaction, Zoomcar suggested the EVs show great calibre in Indian mobility environment. Has the company thought about increasing its electrified fleet in the country to boost adoption?
Greg Moran_At Zoomcar the response for electric cars has been really phenomenal, the actual use cases are very much oriented around in-city trips, really short urban commutes going on short errands, shopping, generally for a couple of hours somewhere like 30-40 kilometres in the city. This has seen quite a bit of popularity with youngsters, the peppiness and the new overall style of the electric car, eco-friendliness all of that really weighing in and coming together for an enjoyable overall experience when it comes to self-drive.
ATR_As an avid environmentalist yourself, you must be noticing greener mobility models falling behind schedule due to the ongoing crisis. Policies like FAME II have made a statement, but still fall behind in terms of delivery in India. What views do you have towards greener mobility in the Indian context?
Greg Moran_The very business model of Zoomcar is centered on reducing the burden of increasing vehicles on the infrastructure and the environment, the data shows that a car shared takes 20 other cars off the road. Going forward the way consumers behave is not so much oriented around the environment per se, it’s much more focused on what is the overall cost perspective, that’s where when it comes to Electric Vehicles, the use now is much more towards electric two-wheelers for a simple reason that the overall cost of ownership is actually on par with petrol scooters. Cars are still not quite there yet, simply because of the overall cost of ownership when compared with the petrol car. Coming out of this lockdown you will see electric scooters do really well, but for electric cars in my view will take a little bit longer.