Though a nascent in­dus­try, at least a dozen odd star­tups have sprung up in last one year

The Economic Times - - Companies - Taslima.Khan@ times­group.com

New Delhi: While the Uber and Olas of the world are busy up­ping their game is the $8 bil­lion taxi-rental mar­ket, there is an­other par­al­lel in­dus­try self-drive car rentals which though nascent is grow­ing at a fast peg. In the last one year, at least a dozen odd star­tups have sprung up in the space — MiCar, Self­drive.in, Voler, Ren­toMojo, Revv, Justride and oth­ers.

“The self-drive rental busi­ness very well com­ple­ments the usual taxi book­ing busi­ness and at least two to three com­pa­nies in this space will cre­ate sig­nif­i­cant value as the mar­ket ex­pands,” said Anu­pam Mit­tal, founder of Shaadi.com, an early in­vestor in Ola Cabs and self-drive startup Justride.

“Self-drive is a nascent busi­ness but growth is go­ing to be phe­nom­e­nal, with a lot of de­mand com­ing from young­sters be­tween 18 and 40 years of age who do not want to use their own cars,” said Ra­jiv Vij, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Car­zon­rent who plans to in­vest $20 mil­lion in the com­pany’s self-drive ver­ti­cal Myles.

“Sky is the limit for the self-drive mar­ket as there is lot of room to grow,” says Zoomcar Founder Greg Mo­ran who cur­rently works with 2000 cars across 7 cities and plans to ex­pand ca­pac­ity to10000 cars by mid of next year while ven­tur­ing into tier II cities as well. Zoomcar claims to have dou­bled its mar­gins in the last 12 months and achieved profitabil­ity in all seven cities. Star­tups are in­vest­ing big in tech­nol­ogy to pro­tect their as­sets and im­prove cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence. Revv which is funded by Myn­tra CEO Ananth Narayanan among oth­ers, for in­stance has built on- board di­ag­nos­tic sys­tems to give de- tails of driv­ing be­hav­iour of driv­ers and sys­tems to help mon­i­tor the health of cars re­motely—say if the car tem­per­a­ture in­creas­ing be­yond safe lim­its the sys­tem raises an alarm. Also, cars are fit­ted with re­mote en­gine im­mo­bilis­ers us­ing which en­gines of cars can be im­mo­bilise to stop fur­ther move­ment of the car. “This helps a lot against theft pro­tec­tion,” says Revv CEO Anu­pam Agar­wal which launched in July 2015 with a fleet of 9 cars and now owns 300 cars across 3 cities. On sim­i­lar lines, Justride em­ploys Smart Ve­hi­cle Tech­nol­ogy to taps into ve­hi­cle’s elec­tronic sys­tem and pro­vides a real time ac­cess to the lo­ca­tion and per­for­mance.

Self-drive is a dif­fer­ent busi­ness from the taxi-book­ing busi­ness on mul­ti­ple counts. Be­ing a pow­er­ful use-case within the car rental in­dus­try, star­tups in this space are cutting a slice out, ca­ter­ing to a dif­fer­ent yet grow­ing con­sumer need- re­luc­tance to­wards in­vest­ing in ve­hi­cles for per­sonal use and the ex­pe­ri­ence of driv­ing fancy cars at way af­ford­able prices.

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