Rent and Drive
Hiring a car on rent for a trip, and driving it yourself, offers a string of benefits.
DELHI’S RAKESH JOSHI often hires a Fortuner for his weekend trips to the hills, even though he owns a Ford Ecosport. Joshi is not alone – many young professionals and entrepreneurs are opening up to the idea of hiring a self-drive car (not to be confused with cars that drive themselves, which are also called autonomous cars). The reasons are not hard to find. Several high-end cars and SUVs are launching in India, but not everyone can buy them. You might own a small car, but may want to drive a bigger, fancier one on a holiday trip. Self-driven cars allow this luxury. Some companies even offer 24x7 road-side assistance, making the experience less stressful.
Popular in countries such as the US and Europe, the self-drive car industry isn’t really new in India. However, it is only in the past couple of years that the segment has seen a lot of action, with existing players ramping up services and new ones rolling in. “The self-drive concept is gaining popularity amongst holiday travellers,” says Anupam Agarwal, Co-founder & CEO of Revv, a start-up in this space. “They opt for a self-drive car because when they hire a taxi, they end up blocking a seat as well as paying additional money for the driver.”
The spurt in demand for such vehicles is coming from 20-to-40-year-old travellers. People also hire such cars for commuting within the city, as an impromptu second car for housewives, for example. College students who can’t buy a car often opt for this service as they get to drive their dream car at an affordable cost. It also gives one the option to really test a car before taking a buying decision.
Companies are going all out to service the rising needs of the consumer. Revv, for instance, offers self-drive cars on hourly rent in Delhi-NCR. The company has a wide selection of cars ranging from Hyundai Grand i10 to
Mahindra XUV to Audi Q3. The rentals differ from car to car and are higher for weekends and peak season, which includes festivals and New Year. It delivers your desired car at your doorstep – yes, home delivery! – and also doesn’t keep any distance (km) cap. Instead, it has a simple policy of maintaining a full fuel tank – that is, the tank is full when the car is delivered to you, and you need to fill it back up before returning the vehicle.
Zoomcar, founded in 2013, has over 1,800 cars across Bangalore, Pune, DelhiNCR, Chennai, Mumbai and Hyderabad. It claims to offer a wide selection of vehicles under Zoom Lite, Zoom Regular and Zoom Xtra categories, where the pricing is based on the duration of travel. “Our service is popular amongst students, young professionals, housewives and holiday travellers,” says Greg Moran, CEO and Cofounder of Zoomcar. “Customers can book our cars from the app on hourly, daily, weekly and monthly basis.”
Myles, the self-driving service from Carzonrent, attempts to fulfil the need for a second car. It provides cars for executives going to office or going to a meeting, or for housewives who step out in the afternoon to go grocery shopping and pick kids up from school, or for people whose cars are at the service centre for repairs. Starting with 14 cars about two years ago, Myles, today, has 1,400 cars in its fleet across multiple cities. It has set up location points in every area allowing a user to walk to the car, unlock the car with the app and find the keys inside. “You can pick the car from one location and drop it at another,” says Sakshi Vij, Founder & CEO, Myles. “For instance, you can pick the car near your house and drop it at the airport.”
There are some like Eco Rent a Car that focus only on luxury cars. It has in its ranks Mercedes E-Class, S-Class, BMW 3 Series, 7 Series and Chrysler Limousine. A Mercedes E-Class can be hired on rent of ` 12,000 for a day or for ` 4,000 for four hours or 40 km.
These cars are registered as selfdrive vehicles, so you don’t require a special driving licence. While travelling outstation, one has to stop at the first RTO check post to get the visitor permit for the state. Technology in these cars allows the companies to track them 24x7. They can immobilise the car if it is entering into a restricted area. For instance, the taxi unions in Ladakh and Gulmarg, in Kashmir, do not permit non-local vehicles from plying to certain destinations. The vendor gets a notification if the car enters such areas. The speed of the cars is also tracked. In case of an accident, using the data accumulated at the back-end, vendors can figure out the cause of the accident – whether the driver was rash driving or over speeding.
At the front-end, you can book a car either through the company’s website or its app. You can upload the scanned copy of your identity proof and driving licence, which is then verified, and pay the refundable security deposit – ` 5,000 in most cases; can go up to ` 50,000 in case of luxury cars – through net banking, credit card or debit card. The security amount is refunded within seven working days in your account, once the car is returned.
So, the next time you want to go driving in a fancy car on a holiday, just hire it.