This Female Entrepreneur Is Driving Change In India’s Car Rental Industry
Car rental company Myles is proving that next gen India is thinking quite differently from their parents when it comes to cars and whether to own one or not.
The Indian automotive industry is one of the largest in the world, accounting for roughly 7% of the country’s GDP – with over 40 million vehicles on the roads today.
“The Indian market is completely different compared to how self-drive has grown anywhere else,” says Myles Founder and CEO Sakshi Vij, who says she started her company in late 2013 due to the visible increase in congestion in Indian cities.
Her goal is to spark a change in the way Indians drive; while car rental companies in India have typically provided drivers with the car, Myles offers just a car and the opportunity for the car-renter to drive themselves.
Having a driver in India is fairly common, in most urban cases, to avoid wasting valuable time in cities with poor parking infrastructure and time spent at the wheel in heavily-congested traffic.
“If we are to build smart Indian cities in the future, the concept of personal car ownership will need to be replaced with a shared ownership system,” says Vij. “That is exactly the change Myles would want to fuel.”
New Delhi based Vij is a rare female entrepreneur in the male-dominated Indian transportation sector. Her company, Myles, is the child of family-owned car rental company Carzonrent, started by her father, Rajiv Vij in 2001.
But Myles is setting out on a different path, says Vij. She’s been part of the transportation space for over nine years, and represented global car rental company Hertz in their India entry.
She says the demand for alternatives to car ownership is high in India, and that her platform has proven this. Her test version of the concept in late 2013 saw her month’s availability of cars sold out to renters within three days.
“The number of cars being bought in India continues to be high, the overall time spent driving a personal car is reducing,” she says. “When you see the same phenomenon when it happened in major global cities, it lead to the growth of car sharing and self-driving services.”
A Capgemini report indicated a 59% positive response to the idea of alternative means to car ownership from emerging markets including India, while developed nations such as the US and Europe indicated only 25-30% demand.
Myles works on an asset light model, cars are sourced through collaborations with taxi fleet operators, car dealers, and manufacturers. With an availability of over 1,000 cars, the service is present in 21 cities across India, and offers features rare to a car company operating in the domestic market such as GPS systems on request and roadside assistance.
Fifteen to 20% of Myles’ renters are foreign tourists and visitors, says Vij.
Though they’re not the only ones. Competitors include fellow startups Zoomcar and JustRide, headquartered out of Mumbai and Bangalore. International player Avis is also present.
“With the increase in consumer interest in the self-drive space in India, we do expect global players to enter the market,” says Vij. “The benefit of being an Indian-born self-drive brand for us is that we can mold our products to meet the needs of the fast evolving Indian consumer.”
She also hopes to take the company international in three to four years.
“Our aim is to be an alternate ecosystem to car ownership,” Vij says. “The global averages suggest that every car added to a car-sharing network can replace up to 20-25 personal cars.”
Reinforcing the smart city concept, she hopes that car sharing companies will be better able to deploy fuel-efficient vehicles as a result of higher use.
“I think we have just scratched the surface – the transportation industry in India has remained unorganized and cluttered for the longest time” she says. “The need for transportation both personal and public has been growing though; technology is playing a critical role and is a focus for players like us to fuel this growth.”
This article was originally published on Forbes.
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