Mahendra Verma, a Delhi-based businessman who has to visit Karnal for work-related meetings frequently, prefers to rent a car and drive there on his own over availing the services of a chauffeur.
Yet another commuter fond of driving his own rented car explains the reason for his choice thus: “I often have to travel to Punjab for business reasons, and I used to rely on trains because taxis were expensive. That of course was not convenient because often my waitlisted ticket on the train wouldn’t get cleared, and I would have to postpone the trip and incur losses in the process. Now, self-drive rented cars work out 40 percent cheaper than regular taxis, and it is also reliable and professional. I spend almost the same amount as I used to spend on trains (since I travel with two or more colleagues), and I can plan the trips with flexibility.”
Karan Jain, Co-founder and COO of Revv, which has already gained the advantage of being one of the early movers in this segment, says that self-drive car rental services have always been in demand in India. “I believe the Indian market direly needed such a service, and it was probably introduced a bit late in the country,” he adds.
Self-drive rented car services are not to be confused with self-driving cars, which run on technology and don’t need anyone at the wheel.
Revv is a doorstep delivery car rental service based out of Gurgaon catering to Delhi, NCR, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, and Chandigarh.
When the company asked its customers why they chose a self-drive service, there were three words they heard often: cost, privacy, and flexibility.
“The truth is that not having a driver reduces the cost structure by 30–40 per cent, and that benefit gets passed on to the customer in the form of lower prices. This is contrary to the popular perception that self-drive cars are expensive,” says Karan.
Business has been growing and growing
According to Ken Research, Indian car rental market revenue will grow at a considerable CAGR and is expected to touch Rs 800 crore by 2019. From being an on-demand service to self-driven, the car rental space has been evolving continuously in the country.
Substantiating the claim of the growing market, Revv shared some growth figures.
It claims to be growing at 30 percent per month. In one year’s time, it has served around 25,000 bookings and clocked revenues of $1.5 million.
Starting out from Delhi NCR, the company has expanded to cities like Hyderabad, Bengaluru, and Chandigarh and the fleet size has grown to almost 350, having doubled in the last five months.
It also raised $2 million in funding from Ananth Narayanan, CEO of Myntra; the CEO of DEN Online; more than 10 directors and partners from McKinsey (including the heads of logistics and automotive practices); a senior executive from an investment fund; and a German soccer professional.
On funding, Neeraj Batra, Chairman and Co-founder, OnCourse Vantage says, “Our decision to invest in Revv was based on the clear focus of the company to use technology for building a scalable and financial viable model. Besides, there was the interesting staging of the vertical, which we felt would grow leaps and bounds in the future.”
So what drove Revv ahead?
Just like any other #startup, the first challenge was getting the word out and becoming known to customers.
“As we have continued growing, we have realised that awareness levels about this product (self-drive rented cars) are even lower than we imagined. A majority of potential customers does not even know that one can rent a car on self-drive basis in India, let alone the fact that this option is 30–60 percent cheaper than traditional chauffeur-driven cars,” says Karan. “We consider this awareness-building as one of the most important problems for us to solve.”
Revv wants to build its goodwill on customer experience.
Ambitious expansion plans
In six months, Revv will aim to substantially expand footprint across cities and have a wider network to provide one-way services to customers (eg: pick up a car in Delhi and drop it off in Chandigarh).
Karan also wishes to launch new products which serve a different set of consumer needs. For example, a micro-lease product that allows people to rent a car by the month (instead of by the hour), at a very different price point. He says it can be a practical option for people who change cities frequently, or for those who do not want to be tied to a particular car for long.
The self-drive car rental space is witnessing a boom with multiple players exploring the market.
Zoomcar, JustRide, MiCar, Carzonrent, Selfdrive.in, Voler, RentoMojo, and many other players are exploring the opportunities in the self-drive car rental market. According to an estimate, more than 10 organised players are working in the segment in the four metro cities, with new players continuously joining in.
The other players in the space are also launching various campaigns, packages, and services to increase their user base. For example, Zoomcar has designed special packages like Zoom Commute to attract corporates and office-goers who are looking for an economic weekday self-drive option.
Companies are also integrating technologies like Driver Behaviour Monitoring (DBM,) and On-Board Diagnostics (OBD) in their cars. Zoomcar, Revv, Voler, Carzonrent, and many other companies are using such technologies in their cars.
Presently, the market is inundated with numerous players. However, according to industry experts, only a few players will survive in the longer run.