Article written by movmi’s Venkatesh Gopal.
This month on our shared mobility by region series, we are looking at the current offerings available in the shared mobility India market.
India is one of the biggest markets for domestic car sales and hence keeps attracting global brands every year. However, with the rising awareness of the ill-effects of traffic congestion and vehicle-led pollution, we see a faster adoption of shared mobility services by many cities across the country. These services include car sharing, car pooling, electric vehicles sharing, bike sharing and many more. Keep reading to learn more about the top shared mobility India operators and each service that is available across India.
To read more articles in our Shared Mobility By Region series, click here.
Shared Mobility by Region: India
shared mobility india: carshare
Carshare in India is synonymous to car rental and car pool. There aren’t many free floating carshare businesses yet, however there is a lot of traction in this space. Car pooling on the other hand is being promoted even more. We will visit each of these areas in this blog.
Car rental and subscription models are fast growing in the country. Since consumers are increasingly being wary of the cost of ownership elements such as insurance, repair costs and rising fuel prices; car sales growth in the country has been challenged. Curb space and parking is quite unorganized across cities. In most of the downtown areas, they could be seen as expensive. Other areas they are not even charged or designated.
In many areas, just a small fee for the whole day (office parking) is charged where people could also opt to get monthly subscriptions. The automotive market in India has seen the worst slump in the past 19 years in 2019, with reasons attributed to vehicle financing, fuel prices and increasing use of ride hailing services by consumers. Shared mobility is being increasingly seen as one of the alternatives with many companies exploring innovative models to serve consumers.
Shared mobility india: carsharing
‘Any mode of transportation that is shared by users on a as-needed basis, from bikes to 4-wheelers to mass transit can constitute shared mobility.’ Moreover carsharing is defined as ‘access to vehicles as needed, often renting vehicles on an hourly or daily basis or paying monthly dues for use.’
Most of the carshare companies in the country follow the conventional rent-a-car model. With the least trip duration allowed among all operators being 4 hours, the carshare model in India is still in its preliminary stages. Key factors causing this could be zeroed down to the affordability of ride-hailing and ride-sharing services, the growing pre-owned car market across the country and limited to no regulated restrictions in parking which brings car ownership costs down. Customers can still find cheaper ways of getting around. Carshare or as emerging companies in India call it ‘self-drive car rental’ is currently a mixture of models with company owned fleet, peer-to-peer vehicles shared and aggregated car rental company fleet, all available for customers to book via a mobile APP.
Many new car-rental companies are trying to compete in the carshare space by matching the UX side of things i.e. the mobile APP based booking and with a door delivery option. In such models, the customer is not allowed to book the car for less than a day, which defeats the purpose of carsharing being an alternative to everyday on-demand commute.
BREAKDOWN OF OPERATING CARSHARE PROVIDERS
ZoomCar is a carshare model in which customers are required to book a minimum of 6 hours per trip. While this seems a little longer than required for a one-way commute to work or to shop during the day, the duration might suffice for a round trip or cover any traffic congestion delays in major cities such as Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore. The ZoomCar model is primarily a station based one where customers can unlock the car via the mobile APP and the booking fee includes fuel, insurance, taxes and road side assistance. The company like most others in India provides doorstep delivery option at an extra cost. Customers could choose to pay a small fee and be a ‘premium member’ to avoid the security deposit and become eligible for other benefits.
Launched in 2015 as JustRide, Drivezy has made quick progress to be one of the fastest growing peer-to-peer car share companies in India. Currently the company differentiates itself with providing car and moped sharing in a single platform. Customers can opt for an all inclusive package with insurance and fuel, however all cars come with maintenance and road side assistance included. Drivezy allows individual owners, car rental companies and car dealerships to host their vehicles on their platform for customers to rent out. Available across 10 major cities across India, Drivezy covers a wide bandwidth of vehicles for customers to choose from.
Revv allows the customer to book a car through the APP and a company rep delivers it to the desired location. Pick up works the same way, once the trip is completed. While this allows more flexibility to a customer, the minimum 10 hour booking period makes this just a car rental model.
More than a carshare, Revv seemingly has its forte in partnering with car companies and dealerships to offer monthly car subscription services to help lease cars.
VolerCars gives the customers an option to pick up from the 100+ locations or have it delivered at a desired location. Like all other companies, VolerCars defines itself as a ‘Self-drive Car Rental’ where customers need to pay a security deposit. The booking fee covers only insurance and road side assistance, the customers pay for fuel as in a typical car rental model. There is no APP-based unlocking feature with VolerCars, the customers are handed over the keys by the company rep.Customers are required to book a minimum of 6 hours per trip.
VolerCars, established in 2010, started with corporate partnerships and as on date continues this channel of operations across 7 major cities.
Hayr carshare is the pioneer free floating car sharing service in India. Currently the company operates in the city of Chandigarh. It offers customers to book any car parked around or call for a car drop off at their doorstep at a specific time later. Customers can unlock the cars through the APP, for which they have 30mins from booking to starting the trip. There’s an idling charge of INR 1/min starting when the doors are unlocked and before turning on the ignition. This idling fare is applicable as an option allowing customers to pause their trips before continuing under the same booking instance. The fare is INR 7/min for the first 2 hours, INR 6/min for the next 4 hours and INR 5/min beyond that. The doorstep car drop off service is charged extra, INR 150 and claims to reach the customer in a maximum of 60mins. Parking is free as far as the customer parks it in one of the authorized parking spaces.
Myles is a car share company offering on-demand booking for a minimum of 4 hours per trip. Customers may opt to pick the car from one of the many locations spread across the city or choose to have the car delivered at their doorstep. Myles covers 21 major cities across India with a total of 250+ locations.
Shared mobility india: carpooling
With many policies enforced by the government of India to reduce urban traffic congestion, car ownership has gone through its ups and downs. While Uber and Ola started their India operations, a specific form of ride-sharing concept grew in many cities. Numerous startups emerged in the online and mobile APP space and individuals started pooling their own cars as a gesture to curb congestion in cities. Today the market is flooded with newer CarPool APPs that provide innovative features, intercity commutes, verification options for pooling members (CarPooling has seen incidences in the past and commuter safety is one of the major concerns similar to ride-hailing) and regular v/s casual commutes.
Poolmycar was one of the first in the market. Over the years it has included stricter verification processes for its drivers & riders. BlaBlaCar has been one of the most widely used peer-to-peer Carpooling service with the only downside being that payments are accepted in cash. SRIDE on the other hand fixed this to provide online mobile payments, was launched in 2014. Other similar operators include Ridely, Quick Ride, Zify and ToGo. The model has seemingly seen so much demand that a travel agency IBIBO and the first call-taxi company in the country Meru Cabs have launched their own CarPool APPs called Ryde and Carpool respectively. CoYatri is a similar service but exclusively for intercity travels, which is growing as fast as the demand for faster city commuting as well.
Wish that we still live in the ‘barter age’ where good deeds could be exchanged for services? Well the Carpooling service CarEgiri allows users to exchange kilometers for rides. While offering a carpool service the driver earns KMS which they can use in turn to hitch a ride as a rider next time. Talk about cashless, you can now go moneyless!
shared mobility india: ride hailing
Ride-hailing in India is primarily split between Ola and Uber. While Uber entered the Indian market in 2013, Ola by then had had a 3 year head start in the shared mobility India market. India is definitely a lucrative market, but it definitely has given both ride-hailing companies a run for their money. While these companies have benefited through the rapid growth in smartphone penetration and mobile internet in tier 1,2 and 3 cities, (for e.g. Delhi, Agra and Dehradun) and , the same has been too fast for the internet bandwidth to cope up. As a result one of the challenges for UBER & OLA is the slow internet speeds in many areas of the same city. UBER has almost doubled its tech-team in India and has even released a lighter APP called UBERLITE to counter this challenge.
This version, Uber claims, uses less than 5MB space with a 300-millisecond respnose time, provides popular pickup points nearby in case the customer encounters network issues. The APP allows customers to select from popular drop-off destinations not requiring a network connection all the time (an algorithm which learns to prioritize from the customer usage history). The customer can even opt to not load maps and could track driver with just a progress bar, which saves space and time to load maps on poor network. While shorter urban commutes in cities through a car were seen a little too expensive by consumers, Ola launched OlaAuto and OlaBike offering lower cost alternative modes over short distances within the city. By this (Olaauto) the company still holds an edge over its American rival.
Finally there is the challenge with profitability. Ola and Uber basically entered into a price war among themselves and with local small time cab drivers in cities. Competing for increased ridership meant discounting rides at a cost, this in turn meant increasing volume of rides and getting more riders which created bigger demand and needed more cabs and incentivizing drivers to stick to their operator brands, all this went in a vicious circle. Recently buckling to the pressures of profitability, Ola had to cut down on the driver incentives which led many drivers to migrate to Uber instead.
Ride hailing is becoming ever so popular in India now, but it is so at a cost and it will be interesting to follow what innovative approaches these companies take in order to stay afloat.
As a part of the sustainable transportation strategy, the government of India has plans to order both Ola and Uber to convert 40% of their fleet to electric by April 2026. OLA had operated a few EVs in the past with little success owing to the inadequate infrastructure and high initial costs. BLUSmart Mobility is a new entrant in the ride-hailing market with a unique offering of just EVs. The company is the first all EV ride-hailing service in India and has currently the Mahindra e-Verito model on its fleet. Currently with a fleet of 70 vehicles in New Delhi, the company plans to expand to 500+ vehicles soon to serve multiple cities.
Bikxie, a moped-taxi hailing service, founded in 2016, is a unique service provider with ride-hailing, moped rentals and food and parcel delivery options to its customers. Currently the company offers its services in the city of New Delhi. The company since being founded had introduced the only female driven moped-taxis (which is a unique proposition even today in country) called ‘Bikxie Pink’. Female customers can specifically book this option considering safety concerns and mere discomfort for many in riding pillion with a male stranger. Customers enter their gender during registration and female customers will be eligible to book the ‘Bikxie Pink’ service. For increased safety the APP features an SOS alarm which sends an instant message to the customers’ emergency contacts. Another unique feature about Bikxie is that the customer does not need to enter the destination and there is no book-now icon. Instead the mopeds will need to be hailed real time based on availability (off trip). Bikxie dedicates itself to provide safer, simpler and an economical option to commute and deliver across the city.
shared mobility India: micromobility
Micromobility modes i.e. mopeds and bikes, have always been one of the prime commuting modes for the urban and rural Indian. With the advent of technology and global success stories, many local startups have ventured into this space across the country. Indian cities are no exception to congestion problems and micromobility could very well be the lifeline for a quick and sustainable way to commute. Both docked and ‘dockless’ models are being tried out in different cities and these companies are fast growing. A few operators have been mentioned below.
Bounce is a moped sharing service which allows customers to book a moped from anywhere and drop it off at any legal parking spot near their destination. It is a free floating moped sharing model where the customer finds & books an available moped via the mobile APP, receives a code which once keyed in the console starts the trip. Fares start at INR 5/km and INR 0.5/min which includes fuel and a helmet for the rider. The company also features options to rent a moped on hourly basis and book a trip to the airport. Currently bounce is available only in the city of Bengaluru. Bounce has bought over the Alibaba backed Chinese bike-share Company Ofo’s India business, which the Chinese shut down just after 6 months of operations.
Vogo primarily competes in the same space as Bounce. Although, Vogo does not feature keyless mopeds, it basically follows the same operational model. The company claims to have marginally cheaper fares starting at INR 3/km including fuel and a helmet for the trip. Operating in the same city as Bounce, however Vogo operates on a station based model where the customers need to return the mopeds to one of the preset locations to end the trip.
Mobycy started off as a bike sharing service and now has moved to incorporate e-bikes under the brand name ZYPP. The operating model is similar to Bounce or Vogo and they have a dockless option, at a marginally extra fee. All bikes currently are electric which brings the concern of them being charged at least at the minimum level. The customer needs to pay a small deposit fee upfront and complete the verification before being able to ride. They may use the bike from one station to the other by just paying the INR 5 per 30mins fee or subscribe for unlimited rides at INR 99/month. The e-bike costs INR 2/min to ride and may be subscribed at INR 499/month. Mobycyhas tie ups with delivery agencies under their corporate plans where delivery drivers may use their bikes/e-bikes as per the contract. Interestingly, Mobycyallows apartment parking/house owners to rent out their space with facilities for charging for some compensation by the company. ZYPP is available only in the city of Gurugram.
A regular and e-bike sharing service which has spread across to more than one city, Mumbai, Bangalore and recently Delhi. Yulu features a docked operating model. Yulu Move, branded for the bike share, allows for a ‘pause’ feature. The users can ‘pause’ their trip and make multiple stops while not being charged for the entire period. Yulu does charge a fee for this, but is lesser thanthe trip fare. The e-bike works in the same manner and is branded under Yulu Miracle. Similar to Mobycy, Yulu provides a subscribing option to its customers where they may save on their daily trip costs. After being launched in Delhi, Yulu has partnered with the Delhi Metro (transit) to integrate last mile connectivity through their Yulu Miracle e-bike service
Apart from the above operators, the car sharing operator DRIVEZY plans to introduce e-moped sharing as well across many cities of its operations.
EV Adoption in India
India is one of the key markets for car sales, however with the recently policy developments post the Paris Climate Change agreement, the country has been looking to push the Zero Emission (Electric Vehicles) transportation agenda. Although many cities in India have started seeing the exclusive use of e-rickshaws (3-wheelers) as a part of the public transport, a widespread drive towards EVs is still a long way out.
One of the first challenges that face EV adoption in any city/country is the infrastructure for such vehicles. This includes charging stations, load balancing on the grid for chargers, providing dedicated charging circuits in residential/commercial areas, and so on. Certain companies were early adopters or tried out EV adoption right when the government indicated certain policy changes for companies to go green and be more sustainable. Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) Ltd. was one of them. One of the leading car manufacturers in the country, M&M modified its low range EV model E2O to incorporate latest tech-features such as regenerative braking, mobile APP connectivity along with improving the battery efficiencies. Mahindra has also set up a lithium-ion battery manufacturing plant in the state of Maharashtra with South Korea’s LG Chen.Early on, OLA, the leading ride-hailing provider in the country tested EV based ride-hailing with these E2O models in one of the tier 2 cities (Nagpur) and was thus the pioneer in this space. The business model did not succeed owing to the infrastructure challenges and initial vehicle cost.
The government has announced an incentive equivalent to USD 1.4Bn towards programs supporting EVs and EV mobility infrastructure across the country. The government also announced income tax rebates of upto INR 150,000 to customers on interest paid on loans to buy EVs. This along with customs exemption on Li-ion battery imports are being seen as a boost to EV adoption in the country.The country has set itself a target to have 30% of its overall car sales as electric by 2030.
Currently most available EVs (e.g Mahindra E20 plus, Tata Tigor EV, Mahindra e-Alfa mini etc) are Indian manufactured whereas in the future we will see entrants such as Ford (Ford Aspire EV), Suzuki (Suzuki e-WagonR) or Nissan with its Leaf enter the market.
The World Economic forum lists India cities being the most polluted and 2018 data from Statista.com lists cities such as Gurugram, Delhi and even a tier-2 city such as Agra right at top 20 in the world. The growing vehicle sales market and the reliance of public transport on diesel could be zeroed down as two of the prime factors among others. The promotion of sustainable modes of transportation (viz. Car Sharing and Car Pooling) and the mandate to boost EV sales and infrastructure are seen as steps taken by the government to curb urban air quality. The country, a fast-growing automotive market, seems promising for growth in these areas too.
Is there another region you’d like to see covered in our Shared Mobility by Region series? We will be sharing one article every month covering a new region, and would love to hear your feedback and input here.
Note: This article has not been endorsed or sponsored by any of the providers mentioned and there is no affiliation between movmi and them.