BENGALURU: With concerns lingering over hygiene when it comes to using rental vehicles, companies in the city are introducing new plans to make customers feel safe. Last week, micro-mobility service provider Yulu started long-term rentals with doorstep delivery of cycles and electronic bikes. Bike rental firm Bounce too has introduced long-term plans, while car rental service Zoomcar is looking to introduce longer leases of 1-3 year duration.
The new solutions are much needed to resolve fears among users, says Amit Gupta, cofounder and CEO of Yulu. “Our app now mentions the time of sanitisation of the vehicle, which happens multiple times a day,” he says, adding that a recent survey conducted by them of over 1,600 people, of which 1,000 were from Bengaluru, recorded over 50 per cent of the respondents saying their usage of the Yulu vehicles won’t be affected by the pandemic. Daily bike rental firm Bounce too is seeing a gradual movement towards normalcy.
Vivekananda Hallekere, cofounder and CEO of the firm, says they have resumed operations with 1,300 bikes in Bengaluru, recording over 7,000 daily rides, as compared to their pre-Covid numbers of 20,000 and 1,30,000, respectively. While their vehicles are coated with antimicrobial solution to sanitise surfaces, long-term options have also been provided. “Some commuters would want a product which is more personal, hence users now have the flexibility of renting out a scooter for a longer duration. We have already sold a few thousand subscriptions,” says Hallekere, adding that with many companies planning to resume offices from mid-June, he expects to see a surge of rides and traffic. Agrees Greg Moran, cofounder and CEO of Zoomcar, who expects a significant spike in demand for personal mobility in the coming months.
“Considering the current recession, car subscriptions can prove to be a better option than ride hailing, and also as a more affordable and quicker way of acquiring a car. Of the multiple subscription plans we offer, the shift in demand has been towards one, three, and six months,” he says, adding that subscriptions will grow into more flexible plans and longer durations of leases lasting up to 36 months. Moran further asserts that while every car is thoroughly sanitised before and after each drive, they have also installed keyless entry and tweaked their app to make it more interactive.
“The last few weeks in May, we began to build up operations and saw subscriptions come back in a strong way. People are looking for shorter-term mobility access as opposed to a long-term investment. We have seen a rise in demand for cars for personal work and emergency use. Rentals for intercity travel are up,” he says, citing that while exact numbers cannot be disclosed, a 400 per cent rise in demand has been witnessed, with 50 per cent of it coming from Bengaluru. Commuters too are warming up to the developments, provided adequate hygiene is ensured.
Says IT professional Ankush Vishwanath, “For a consumer, the sanitisation process should be crystal clear.” Some others, however, remain doubtful. “Despite a company’s assurances over sanitisation, I would still be hesitant to pick up a vehicle from a docking point. That would require more than just a notification to convince me,” another techie said.