Perceptions are everything in the world we live in and from time immemorial, the role that dream wheels play in driving perceptions is amply clear. Luxury cars and their allure isn’t a subject that needs further validation. From popular culture to the pages of history, our psyches are replete with examples of luxury wheels subtly defining cultural nuances such as prestige, social status and financial well-being. In India, we have books dedicated to Indian princes and their obsession with their Rolls-Royces, demonstrating the country’s long-lasting love affair with expensive and exclusive vehicles.
Cut to 2018 and things haven’t really changed. For decades, top CEOs, celebrities and royalty have been making a statement with their luxury cars and continue to do so. The only difference is that now a large number of non-VIPs also have access to a suite of premium drives, from Jaguars, Range Rovers to Mercs, Porsches and even Teslas. And the force that is democratizing access to high-end vehicles in India is the country’s luxury car rental market.
Top players in the car rental space offer a full range of dream wheels to top executives, luxury vacationers, tourists, newly-weds and anyone else who wishes to drive or be driven around in ultimate style without having to make heavy investments in the same. Tech innovations by luxury car rental companies that make using their services absolutely seamless are further popularizing the concept. It has become unimaginably simple to rent a vehicle for oneself, a special guest, a member of senior management of one’s organization, visiting investors etc. in one’s own country or in a foreign destination. One can opt for self-drive luxury vehicles for a special date or a fancy vacation or one can choose to be driven by a well-spoken, uniformed, highly-trained and verified chauffeur whom car rental companies provide.
Leading Indian luxury car rental companies also offer other amenities and services that make renting these vehicles so much more attractive. They offer GPS and wi-fi services for continued connectivity, convenience and a feeling of security. Many also promise that the luxury cars being rented out are of less than 5 years of age and are regularly and very meticulously maintained so that the customer experience is nothing short of pure indulgence.
Further, some of the leaders in this space, such as Avis, have made the entire process of renting a luxury vehicle absolutely automated, digital and paperless to appease the new-age customer who is always busy, on-the-go and looking for seamless tech-driven services. With the enhancements in technology, more and more players are being able to focus on mobile-first solutions with a deep emphasis on customization and high levels of customer satisfaction. This is further encouraging people to opt for luxury car rentals over hiring regular cabs or other forms of transportation for themselves or their network.
No wonder then that experts estimate the car rental market in India to grow at a rapid pace and crossover USD 30 billion in value by the end of 2022. Several research surveys and reports also suggest that the Indian luxury car rental domain is on a path of unstoppable growth and map the reasons behind such an accelerated trajectory. Apart from the many technology-based and customer-facing solutions that car rental companies are instituting to drive this growth, there are other market factors leading to enhanced adoption. The rise in international tourism, a business ecosystem where national boundaries are fast blurring, internet and smartphone penetration, increased exposure to global luxury trends across developing nations, increasing disposable incomes along with the development of superior road infrastructure and the emergence of mega cities are some of the other key factors driving this growth, as per most of the market studies.
With a wide choice of vehicles depending on the occasion and need, near-instant deliveries, tech-equipped vehicles for convenience and safety, there is no reason why new-age consumers who seek comfort and convenience will look anywhere else except the Indian luxury car rental space to fulfill their mobility requirements. The industry is enabling companies and individuals to ride the expensive cars they desire/need at a fraction of the cost of buying them, while enjoying a superb experience in the bargain. Corporate clients and end-consumers alike have the choice of renting anything from a sporty, two-door vehicle for a fun evening with friends to a head-turning convertible that makes their vacations more special or luxury SUVs to offer an exclusive experience to clients. Such choice, splendour and luxury are driving the Indian luxury car rental space to new heights and there’s certainly no looking back when you’re zooming ahead on those dream wheels.
By Sunil Gupta, MD and CEO, Avis India
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