Indian mobility unicorn, Ola has formally announced the launch of its self-driving service — Ola Drive. Earlier in September, the company was piloting its self-driving services in Bengaluru at rentals ranging between INR 300 – INR 400.
The service is planned to be initially launched in Bengaluru, closely followed by other metro cities such as Hyderabad, Mumbai, and New Delhi. Ola intends to host a fleet of 20K cars by 2020, which is comparatively higher than the existing players including Sequoia-backed Zoomcar and Y Combinator portfolio startup Drivezy.
Zoomcar claims to have over 10K cars as of October 2019, while Drivezy reported having 4K cars in its fleet in September 2019. Earlier in July, Zoomcar had shared plans to operate a fleet of 20K cars by the end of 2019.
Ola plans to offer its self-driving services at 30% lower rates than these existing players. One-day rental for a hatchback car on Zoomcar is around INR 1.5K to INR 1.6K without fuel on weekdays. Similarly on Drivezy, one-day rentals for hatchbacks is priced somewhere between INR 1.4K and INR 1.9K without fuel for weekdays. (Weekend charges can be higher by 15-20% for both players).
The rental period proposed for Ola Drive is said to be between two hours to three months, which is less than one hour to six-month rentals offered by Zoomcar.
“With over 200 Mn subscribers, Ola Drive has the largest user base for a car-sharing service in the country,” the company said in an official statement. Started in 2013, Zoomcar claimed to have a customer base of 15 Mn users as of July 2019. While, Drivezy is said to have more than 1.5 Mn registered customers spanning across its various offerings including rentals of two-wheeler and four-wheeler vehicles, along with weekly, daily and monthly subscription services and business leasing model.
Similar to Drivezy and Zoomcar, Ola Drive enables users to design their own rental package including the number of kilometers, rental time, and fuel inclusion. Ola claims to enable upto 30% more savings for its customers as compared to existing market players.
In addition to this, all Ola will also be standardising the features of Ola Drive cars to include GPS, Ola’s connected car platform ‘Ola Play’, media playback, and bluetooth connectivity, along with access to the platform’s support and safety features such as a 24×7 helpline, emergency button (which prompts an immediate call from Ola’s dedicated safety response team), roadside assistance, and real-time car tracking. These features are also a part of the existing players service stack.
Ola self-drive service is currently offered through pick-up stations located across different residential and commercial hubs in Bengaluru. However, the existing players are also offering home-delivery of rental vehicles at a service charge of about INR 300.
Further, Ola Drive is also charging a security deposit starting at INR 2000, while Zoomcar takes INR 5000 as the security deposit and Drivezy does not have a security deposit in any city except Goa (where it charges INR 5000 as the security deposit).
Ola Eyes $100 Mn Self-Driving Rentals Market
Ola was founded in 2011 by Bhavish Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati as a cab-hailing service and since then expanded its services to include electric vehicles, micro-credit, food delivery and micro-insurance and now, self-driving car rentals. The total funding for Ola is around $3.28 Bn from prolific investors such as Ratan Tata, Sachin Bansal, Steadview Capital and more.
Commenting on Ola’s foray into the sector, Drivezy CEO, Ashwarya Singh earlier told Inc42, “Ola has a massive customer base which definitely gives it a head start. It’s a positive for the industry as well as self-drive rentals is a relatively new industry in India and with Ola coming in, a good number of new customers will get acquainted with the concept. We believe that Ola’s arrival will definitely benefit a lot of players in the industry”.