Self-drive two-wheeler rentals see positive trend as commute patterns shift post lockdown
At this stage of the COVID crisis, most Indian citizens have found a way to live with the pandemic- many cities have resumed economic activities (with restrictions in place) and allowed movement of consumers and goods. However, as daily commuters venture back on the roads post-COVID, their priorities and commute patterns have shifted. The industry will witness a paradigm shift basis modifying needs of the consumers in the following manner:
Shift in traveling patterns
According to ‘The Urban Commute’ analysis & report by CSE India, Bangalore had a PCTR (per capita trip rate) of 1.4 – number of travel trips generated per person per day. With a population of above 12 million at that time, it makes it 17 million trips per day. Of this, Public transport had the biggest share of 40% & personal two-wheelers had 35%. But in the post COVID world, we believe the usage of two-wheelers has dramatically increased against public transport. It will come as no surprise if the share of two-wheelers amongst overall trips per day would have doubled post lockdown. We feel that this trend will continue for the foreseeable future.
Commuters typically had three key considerations in mind when deciding their daily commute options- affordability, availability and convenience. While these are still important factors, safety will take priority going forward. With health and safety at the forefront of every commuter’s mind, we expect fundamental changes in their travel patterns- the key one being a shift from overcrowded public transportation to personal mobility options. If the majority of daily commuters will not opt to purchase a vehicle, due to preexisting budget constraints which have been further exacerbated by COVID, they would also not opt for shared transport options that require close proximity with another commuter/driver due to fear of transmission.
Self-drive two-wheeler rental startups
In this scenario, self-drive two-wheeler rental companies are uniquely positioned to address the key concerns of commuters, with a safe, reliable and affordable service that is available on-demand, and not shared with another commuter/driver.
Back of the hand calculations for two cities Bangalore & Hyderabad tells us that more than 100 to 150 thousand consumers would have opted for self-drive scooter rental, post lockdown completing a million rides covering more than 5 million kilometers. This number would only increase from here on.
Safety & Sanitization initiatives taken by industry
Companies within the self-drive two-wheeler rental space have taken many steps to ensure the safety of their services, such as multi-step sanitisation processes for their scooters, home delivery options, so that consumers do not need to step out to access their services, or even live sanitization checks by on-ground staff, to assure customers of the delivery of a fully sanitised vehicle.
Many players within this space are also using special antimicrobial solutions to sanitise their scooters, which will eliminate the perceived threat of previous users using the same vehicle. Potential UV based sanitisation of fleets can also be explored going forward.
To further improve safety perception and consumer demand, the on-ground staff employed by these players to interact/clean vehicles daily should be provided with PPE such as gloves, masks, etc. Similar PPE kits should be in place for teams that interact directly with customers. Additional activities such as weekly cleaning and bleaching of all stations can also be implemented by the same team, to guarantee a safe environment for consumers who opt to physically pick up/drop their vehicles. All of the staff should be regularly trained to practice social distancing amongst themselves.
Also read: How car rental could be your new safety move against COVID-19 after lockdown
Tech initiatives to ensure safer ride
Another initiative that has been implemented by many self-drive two-wheeler rental companies is introducing features on their apps that display the “last sanitised” status for all two wheelers in their fleet. This provides consumers with extra assurance that their rented scooters have been recently sanitised.
To ensure smooth operations, all of the aforementioned COVID related SOPs (stations, staff and sanitisation) should be monitored weekly by a strong internal audit team. This team can promptly highlight any miss in the process, which can then be resolved quickly by the on-ground teams.
If these extensive safety measures are put in place, the self-drive two-wheeler rental space is well placed to become the go-to option for daily commuters. Many companies in this space are already witnessing a surge in adoption for their products post lockdown. This is an indicator that consumers believe self-drive two-wheeler rentals can effectively solve for their key commute requirements- safety, affordability, convenience and accessibility.
Author: Padmanabhan Balakrishnan, Co-founder & COO, VOGO
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