Rent and Drive

Hir­ing a car on rent for a trip, and driv­ing it your­self, of­fers a string of ben­e­fits.

Gadgets and Gizmos (India) - - CONTENTS - By Nidhi Sin­gal

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.

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