Self-drive car rental exploded on the Indian scene way back in 2013. While the initial vehicle supply grew slowly due to regulatory constraints, the flood gates truly opened in recent years with over 15,000 shared cars now available across 46 Indian cities. A multitude of options currently exists and the users are absolutely spoiled for choice. There’s no doubt that this is presently a consumer’s paradise. That said, it wasn’t always this way and without critical technology-driven product innovations, self-drive simply wouldn’t be the same.
For any mobility solution to succeed at scale, it’s always important to address core consumer pain points tied to friction and anxiety. Whether ride sharing, inter-city bus travel, or even nascent two-wheeler taxis, it’s mission critical that the experience is frictionless and doesn’t generate anxiety. These core axioms are perhaps the truest when it comes to self-drive car rental.
While self-drive strongly appeals to individuals seeking freedom, independence, and flexibility, there also exists the potential to get bogged down in “what if” scenarios since you’re in fact the person behind the wheel! To help defuse this potential anxiety and friction, it’s absolutely mission critical to infuse every part of the self-drive journey with technology that enhances the overall experience.
Like with other mobility form factors, self-drive also is a fundamentally mobile experience. Right from the time of booking, the entire experience is digital. Within a few hours of booking, the customer receives a link that has detailed directions to the exact vehicle location along with other critical path information on the vehicle. This helps put the mind at ease since it directs the customer to the very last mile.
Once the customer arrives at the car, this is where the magic truly happens. Instead of relying on a manual intervention with another person providing keys and paper-based formalities, the entire process is digital and self-serve (no on-site manpower). This is incredibly powerful since it puts all the power in the hands of the individual and helps save enormous time at the time of vehicle pickup (at least 10 minutes of handover time slashed due to this technology-driven process).
How is the process so seamless you might ask? For starters, the car is unlocked with the mobile app through a GPRS or BLE (Bluetooth) signal. In a matter of just three seconds, the door opens and the customer can then retrieve the keys from the glovebox to start the ignition. Before the trip officially starts, the customer views a digital checklist that showcases the condition of the vehicle. Moreover, the vehicle's documents can be viewed in a digital format to make it easier to access across the trip. This helps put any unnecessary anxiety to rest. There’s no doubt that the keyless entry one touch car unlock inspires the same WOW factor that was initially present with the one button cab request from the ride-hailing apps.
Over and above the technological wonder of the keyless entry process, self-drive rental now allows individuals the ability to share their vehicle with others around them and earn income. By enrolling in a shared subscription program, individuals can use a vehicle for personal use over the long term (6 months and up). This allows individuals to access a personal car for a fraction of the normal cost had the individual purchased the vehicle. Underlying the shared subscription program is a remarkable technology innovation that allows vehicles to seamlessly sit in the broader self-drive inventory with the system then matching the vehicle with local demand (geographically optimized). This system is inherently efficient and helps ensure a very high fill rate for subscribers when they share their vehicles on this system. This nearly guarantees that their income is as high as possible from their sharing.
In addition to seamlessly sharing their vehicle on the shared platform, technology fundamentally improves the experience of a long-term self-drive subscriber. The experience truly reflects more of a white glove concierge gave the possibility to reserve a cleaning or servicing directly from the mobile app with just one tap. No doubt a major time saver given the inherent inefficiency with the typical servicing and cleaning.
Overall, the self-drive renal industry continues to innovate at a breathtaking rate. At its core, there exists an obsession to constantly improve customer experience through dynamic technological innovation.
-- Greg Moran, Co-founder & CEO, Zoomcar...