Evolution of selfdrive car rental business in India from 2008 to 2018-Whitepaper

In 2018, I enter my 13th year as a salaried person. While most people in IT/other decently paying jobs buy a car (mostly on loan) within their first few years, I have managed all these years without buying one- my approach was to just rent a car when there's a need and manage daily commute on a motorcycle. I have seen India's self-drive car rental industry from close quarters over the decade. During the early days -2008-09, the rentals were cheap but the availability was limited and the process was complicated. Very few agencies existed and getting a car booking confirmed needed multiple emails, phone calls- agencies didn't focus much on self-drive those days-their focus was corporate customers, airport pickups and other chauffeur driven rentals. Few private agencies had complicated terms like having deposit lots of cash, original ID etc. But once you get a car, there were no speed limit, usage limit or other complicated rules.

Fast forward to 2018, every metro has a dozen self drive companies and dozens of car models and thousands of cars to chose from. The rental process is now extremely simplified with website and app, availability is not a concern at all but on the down side, there're lots of rules and restrictions in place- speed governors that limit the car to 80 kmph, daily usage limits, other rules and restrictions and so on. Despite fierce competition, the average rental hasn't gone down. It costs a lot more to rent a self drive car today, compared to what it used to cost earlier.

I continue to rent the car on need basis even now, but the fun and adventure associated with self-drive is sort of compromised these days due to lots of limitation. Earlier I could just book and use as pleased, now I need to plan till last km before booking, select right package and then use it with lots of restrictions like 80 kmph speed limits. Right now, self-drive rental still sounds economical as against buying a car, but at some point convenience of having a own car at home might take over financial savings.

As an observer and enthusiast, I felt I should document my observations. When I began noting down my observations and thoughts, it catapulted to a full 20 page document. Too long for a blog post. Thus I decided to publish it as a whitepaper. [Download for free here]

The whitepaper covers following topics
  • Why I preferred not to buy a car and my early self-drive road trips
  • How various aspects of the industry have changed, 
  • Comparison of trip expenses back then and now
  • Various rental companies in operation today,
  • Pricing models
  • How I am coping with increased cost
  • What turns me off when I go to collect a car, , 
  • Government apathy towards self drive car rental industry, 
  • Current economics of renting vs buying a car
  • The future outlook and so on.
If this topic interests you, you can download this whitepaper from here and read. It is long, so will take time to read- but if you're working in self-drive rental industry or if you're interested to learn how things have changed over time, I hope this document will be of good use to you. If you are a self-drive customer, document will give you some tips to save some cost and optimize your experience, within possible means. It took some time and effort for me to write this document- will be fruitful if you read and find useful. Read the whitepaper for free here.

Let me know your feedback.

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