Fortunately, you don't have to worry about breaking your head over which friend to leave behind, thanks to the sudden expansion of India's rental car market. Now, you can rent a 'self drive' car for the weekend. Additionally, this facility lets you choose from a list of vehicles that you can drive, from an hour to even a month. It's a trend that's getting increasingly popular in the car rental space, and today, the market is competitive, with a range of companies such as Myles, Zoomcar, Revv and Selfdrive.in, offering these services.
The rates vary according to the service provider. It starts as low as Rs. 775 per day. Cars can be booked in advance, and in some cases up to three months in advance. In case of last-minute cancellations, you will have to pay a fee. You can either pick up the car from a destination specified by the company or have it dropped to a specific venue at an extra cost.
Myles, which launched in Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai in 2013, entered the Chennai market in early 2014, with 100 cars. “Initially, we saw only 20 to 30 per cent utilisation of our cars in Chennai. Now, the number has soared to 80 to 90 per cent. Weekends are crazy and there have been times when cars have been unavailable due to high demand. It's also economical when compared to hiring a cab. I would say it cuts cost by about 50 per cent,” says Sakshi Vij, founder of Myles. He says that they plan to add another 300 cars to their fleet in the next four months.
“Since there is no driver involved, you have privacy, independence and flexibility,” says Greg Moran, who started Zoomcar in Bangalore, in February 2013. They are now in six cities across India. While their popularity is growing gradually in Pune, Chennai and Hyderabad, they say it is Bangalore, followed by Mumbai and Delhi, that requires the most number of cars. “In Chennai, we have 100 cars. Most common destinations for the Chennai market are ECR, Madurai, Pondicherry and Tirupati,” says Greg.
This concept is also making self-drive holidays more popular in India. Often a preferred mode of exploring countries abroad, self-drive holidays are finding takers in the 23-to-35 age group here. While some of these customers rent cars to drive to relatively predictable destinations like Goa, Ooty, Coorg and Kabini, there are the adventurous ones who head to Ladakh and other less-explored locations. “We are constantly learning about new places from our clients,” says Sakshi. He adds, “Someone took a vehicle to drive to the last Indian village near Badrinath. One of them rented a Nano for a month and drove from Delhi to Kanyakumari, as he wanted an economical way to explore the country.” And how much did he have to pay? Rs. 5,500 as rental charges, minus the fuel, of course.
Most of these companies work on a tank-full to tank-full basis. (The car is given to them with the tank full and that's how they are expected to return it.) Since they also offer luxury models like Mercedes, BMW and Audi, there are instances when clients rent them out for a couple of hours, just to get an idea of how these high-end cars feel. Then there are customers who hire luxury cars just to attend weddings and parties. “At the same time, there are those who are apprehensive because they are worried about damaging the car. The lack of awareness on how to manoeuvre these automatically-advanced cars is a reason why many don't drive them,” says Soham Shah, founder of Selfdrive.in, a company that started out as a chauffer-driven rental car company. By 2010, Soham noticed that there were more requests from customers for self-driven cars than chauffeured ones. Adapting to the market needs, in 2011, the company worked on redefining itself, and has since rented out only this category. Their services are available in three locations now – Pune, Mumbai and Goa. “Pune has plenty of nice destinations nearby like Shirdi and Lonavala. Many clients go to Goa, and every day, at least 20 to 30 of our cars are headed there,” he says. He plans to shortly launch in Bangalore, Delhi, Chennai and Hyderabad. Also Vroom Drive is one of the emerging competitiors in the field of car rentals, vroom drive provides the finest customer service and affordable car rentals in bangalore! next time if are on trip by renting a car, consider vroom drive
Another interesting facet of this service is that increasingly younger working professionals are choosing to rent cars for a month or two, instead of actually buying new cars. There's no hassle of EMI payments, maintenance or insurance. This also enables them to change the car model as and when they please. “All the cars are covered under insurance. Extensive damage will cost the client Rs. 5,000, and less damage, around Rs. 2,000,” says Greg. Most companies equip their fleet with tracking devices, so if you're stranded or the car breaks down, be assured, help will reach you wherever you are.