Indian online bike taxi aggregator Rapido, on Thursday (October 15), launched an online auto-rickshaw booking service ‘Rapido Auto’ in 14 cities, namely Indore, Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Madurai, Tiruchirappalli, Chennai, Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada, Hyderabad, Lucknow, Jaipur, Chandigarh, Patna and Guwahati.
The service will be available at the meter price with an additional minimal convenience fee. The company plans to expand the auto services to 50 cities in India by the end of 2020. This is the first phase of the launch and Rapido claims to have onboarded 20,000 “auto captains” (driver-partners). The company has an ambitious target of onboarding more than 5 lakh such drivers in the next six months. It will also allow interested drivers to register themselves on the Rapido Captain app or by calling the company’s helpline number.
“Autos have emerged as a preferred way of commuting post the Covid-19 pandemic after bike taxis. While the auto service industry is highly penetrated, it has only 5% of its existing market online. Through Rapido Auto, we aim to offer commuters another safe and affordable option for their everyday commute, apart from our bike taxi service, that is standardised in pricing and operations,” said Aravind Sanka, cofounder of Rapido.
Some of the features in the new Rapido Auto app would be GPS technology for live-tracking of rides. Users will also be able to track and share their ride with others. Rapido Auto, like Rapido Bike Taxi service, will have an in-app feedback mechanism for customers.
Founded in 2015 by Aravind Sanka, Pavan Guntupalli and Rishikesh SR, Rapido was one of the foremost proponents of the bike taxi model in India. It claims to have a presence in more than 100 Indian cities with its bike taxi service, with more than 15 Mn customers and 25 Mn app downloads to date. The company has more than 1.5 Mn registered drivers, called captains, all over India. Rapido mainly provides last-mile connectivity and logistics services.
Besides its bike taxi and the recently launched auto services, the company also provides P2P service for exchanging essentials such as food and medicines through Rapido Local. Rapido Store provides logistics and delivery services for SMBs and kirana stores.
According to data on Crunchbase, the company has so far raised $78 Mn from eight funding rounds so far. It counts Nexus Venture Partners, Hero Motocorp and Skycatcher LLC, among others, as its investors.