/Zoomcar expects to see spike in demand for personal mobility post lockdown

Zoomcar expects to see spike in demand for personal mobility post lockdown

zoomcar

Zoomcar holds the distinction of being India’s first self-drive mobility platform, with the introduction of car sharing services in 2013 and today is the market leader in the self-drive space with over 10,000 cars in its fleet. With a strong focus on the mobile experience, Zoomcar allows users to rent cars by the hour, day, week, or month. Headquartered in Bangalore, Zoomcar is over 250 people strong and operates in more than 45 cities across India. In 2018, Zoomcar introduced India’s first peer2peer based marketplace for cars with the launch of its shared subscription mobility model and currently commands over 90 per cent market share in this space. The company, to ensure the safety of customers and the asset (car), collects upto 100 billion data points from its current fleet which will be actively processed to do various predictions. Apart from things like locating the car, knowing the distance travelled and fuel consumed and providing Key Less Entry to the user, data from IoT also helps do the following by staying behind the screens, such as using computer vision to give real time collision warnings other alerts, creating India’s first indigenous Driver score to encourage better driving. To know more on the same, Our correspondent Vivek Singh Chauhan spoke to Arpan Srivastava, Head of Product, Zoomcar. Here are the edited excerpts of the interaction.

Arpan Zoomcar

Can you tell us about the current industry scenario in India?

COVID-19 has upended the dynamics of our economy in many ways and each industry needs to adapt itself to the new normal. Last couple of months has been quite a wild ride for everyone and particularly for those in the mobility sector! In the last few weeks of May, we began to gradually build up operations and saw bookings and subscriptions come back in a strong way. We are already seeing a 400 per cent rise in demand and we expect this to settle down at 200-300 per cent over the next few months. People are now looking for shorter term mobility options as opposed to a long term expense of owning a car. We have seen a steady rise in demand for cars for personal work and emergency use cases. I believe that the necessity of a mobility service like Zoomcar has become more pertinent than ever before. As people would avoid public transport to keep themselves safe from the virus, self-drive cars are the safest option for commuting and traveling.

Zoomcar was already the industry leader in car subscription models of various tenures and car types. We are now seeing an increased demand for in-city trips compared to outstation ones and a stronger focus on shorter term subscriptions. Our focus will be to diversify on this front and ensure we are covering all cities.

Although much of the mobility sector was at a standstill during the lockdown, Zoomcar was driven with a motto to minimize any disruptions in essential services, while ensuring safety for individual service providers and contractors. While Zoomcar grounded its fleet in accordance with the government’s shutdown order, we utilised select vehicles to ensure emergency mobility for the frontline workforce, including bankers, healthcare professionals, and delivery executives.

Being a technology-driven company, how are using IoT and IT to ensure the fleet is in good shape?

Zoomcar has always been at the cutting-edge of tech-enabled mobility solutions. Artificial intelligence and IoT are the two pillars on which our experience works and Covid-19 has brought their importance into even sharper focus. As an example, app-enabled Keyless Entry technology minimizes human contact which is critical in these times of viral spread. Our entire tech stack and operations have already evolved to ensure that every car is thoroughly sanitized before and after each drive. We use AI for vehicle monitoring and predictive maintenance, for e.g. our models can detect patterns in Engine temperatures and coolant levels to predict engine seizures before they happen and guide customers safely to a stop before an emergency situation occurs. We also have models which predict the optimum replacement times for batteries and clutches thus minimizing breakdowns. Last year, we captured almost a 100 billion vehicle-related data points like speed, distance, RPM, clutch, break-times. Our unique Driver Score technology encourages customers to drive cautiously and will have far-reaching consequences on the safety and longevity of our cars. The Zoomcar app, of course allows customers to reach out at any time in case of a query through emails, messages and chatbots. In short, by using technology Zoomcar is prioritizing safety, hygiene and customer experience, thus making its cars future-ready and COVID-19 safe.

Do you think in the coming time car subscriptions will be more popular than car sales?

There is an exponential spike expected in the demand for car subscriptions. Considering the impending recession, car subscriptions will prove to be a better option than ride hailing. It’s simply the most affordable and quickest way of acquiring a car which is also a safe personal mobility option. Imagine getting a hatchback or an SUV delivered to your doorstep in one day flat with Zero down payment! We have multiple options for subscription but the shift in demand has been towards one, three, and six months. We anticipate a significant increase in car subscriptions post Covid-19, as consumers look to avoid public transport without the burden of car ownership. Car subscriptions will continue to evolve and grow into more flexible plans and longer duration of leases ending in 12, 24, or 36 months.

Customer trust and satisfaction is tough to achieve. What is the USP that will drive customers to Zoomcar in the post-covid world?

In this moment of crisis, with growing paranoia about one’s surroundings, we are taking utmost care of the hygiene levels of the car to ensure customer safety. From the keys to the steering wheel, gear, door handles and pocket door hand rest, every touch-point is being sanitised at the time of inspection, to ensure only the safest solutions are let out. Our employees are trained to follow the highest safety standards, so that they are equipped to cater to customer needs while also safeguarding their own health and well-being. We also conduct daily temperature checks of executives cleaning and sanitising the car. A customer simply needs to book a car on the app for picking up and dropping the sanitised car.

How much growth the company is expecting in the post COVID-19 scenario?

We expect to see a significant spike in demand for personal mobility post lockdown and are preparing for a 4 to 5x hike in demand in the coming months.

How does Zoomcar ensure security of its customers?

We use AI for vehicle monitoring and predictive maintenance, for e.g. our models can detect patterns in Engine temperatures and coolant levels to predict engine seizures before they happen and guide customers safely to a stop before an emergency situation occurs. We also have models which predict the optimum replacement times for batteries and clutches. Using predictive analytics, Zoomcar is aiming to predict battery breakdowns by analyzing the status of the engine, AC, headlights, blinkers, fog lights, and even the time taken to start the vehicle each time.

Last year, we captured almost a 100 billion vehicle-related data points like speed, distance, RPM, clutch, break-times. Our unique Driver Score technology encourages customers to drive cautiously and will have far-reaching consequences on the safety and longevity of our cars. The Zoomcar app, of course allows customers to reach out at any time in case of a query through emails, messages and chatbots. In short, by using technology Zoomcar is prioritizing safety, hygiene and customer experience, thus making its cars future-ready and COVID-19 safe.

Can you brief me about the business model?

Zoomcar operates a short-term rental and a long-term subscription model. The former operates on an hourly and daily basis with prices starting at Rs 50/hr and ranging up to Rs 250/hr depending on the vehicle type. Long-term subscription starts at Rs 15K per month and runs up to Rs 45K depending on the vehicle type. On our rental bookings, we typically take a 30 per cent take rate.

Do you have any expansion plans for other countries?

We always consider ourselves a global product company. What we are doing in India is something which can be easily replicated in other emerging markets. Our core technology involving IoT (Internet of Things) holds enormous potential even outside India, including markets like other Asian countries and Europe. Our first focus will be in Asia.

Vivek writes on Technology and Innovation. Currently, the tech correspondent with MY MOBILE holds the distinction to have covered various national and international TECH SUMMITS. He was previously associated with IANS (Indo-Asian News Service) and holds a Master’s Degree in Journalism from Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan. Apart from writing, he is an avid traveller and does not share food!

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