CarToq Trend Watch – The rise of the self driven rental car

Until recently, a cab in India usually meant a radio taxi, a branded car from one of the bigger cab operators such as Meru or Carzonrent or even a cab from one of the thousands of unorganized cab operators in the country. In the midst of all this, the self driven rental car is a phenomenon that is relatively recent in India although this concept has existed in the developed world for many decades.

Two prominent operators in India’s self driven rental car segment are Bangalore based ZoomCar and Delhi based CarzOnRent, who run the self driven rentals under the Myles brand. Although American rental car giant Hertz launched a self driven rental car program in India a few years ago, the concept died a natural death as it was deemed to be too expensive and too early for its day.

Now, Hertz offers self driven rental cars through Orix, which is the former’s master franchisee for India. Many city specific self driven rental car companies like SelfDrive and Eco Rent-a-Car have sprung up across the country in cities such as Gurgaon, Pune and Goa. Cut to 2014, self driven rental cars in India are getting more popular as more and more Indians are experiencing the convenience and freedom of a self driven rental car.

ZoomCar and Carzonrent are adding a slew of car models to its fleet, ranging from the just launched Honda City sedan to the butch Tata Safari SUV. In other words, both these self driven car rental companies offer the self driven cab customer a car that he or she would buy from the market rather than cars that are de-facto cabs such as the Toyota Etios or the Tata Indica.

Here are a few advantages of renting out a self driven cab:

  • Confidence of trusting your own driving rather than that of a cab driver whose driving habits you may not agree with.
  • More economical than renting out taxis in many cases. A 225 kilometer single day running in Bangalore will set you back by about 4,000 rupees in a radio taxi. The same in a self driven Figo hatchback from Zoom would cost just 2,500 rupees. 
  • The sheer pleasure of driving a car.
  • Flexibility of owning a small car for city use and driving a self driven SUV for long distance trips. For instance, if you want to head to the Himalayan passes on a self driven family vacation, you can rent a car from ZoomCar or Carzonrent instead of purchasing an SUV for this trip. 
  • Availability of an electric car such as the Mahindra Reva E2O and a luxury car such as the BMW 3-Series at affordable prices. 
  • Ability to accommodate four additional passengers apart from you in the driving seat.
  • The flexibility of not owning a car in case you rely mostly on public transport. If you’re someone who uses a car rarely, renting out a car when the situation demands through the self driven route works out economical and convenient. 
  • Gives you the option of taking extended test drives (paid, of course) of a car you intend to buy. An extended test drive will help you ascertain whether a car fits all your needs.