The Renault Kwid is the latest model to join India’s burgeoning car subscription market. Car subscription is like leasing on steroids.
India has the fifth- or fourth-biggest car market in the world, depending on who’s counting and what they are counting. It is around the 3 300 000 mark with Germany, about a million units less than Japan and two million less than the USA. China is the enormous outlier at around 25 million. India, like China, Japan and much of the
European Union, is feeling the chilly breeze of a cooling global economy and car sales have dropped dramatically.
Which is why the deal with Renault is significant. A company called Zoomcar will purchase 1000 new Kwids to add to its leasing operation. It is worth looking at this car-use model because it is an early large-scale, successful example of one of motoring’s future pillars: shared mobility.
Shared mobility can have various forms, but it is basically anything from two or more people sharing the use and the cost of a vehicle to anyone having access to many vehicles. The latter is usually via an app, and we know it in the guise of Uber.
In India, they have taken this to a whole new level.
Zoomcar is India’s largest car rental company with 15 million customers. You can rent a car by the hour, day, week or month. Your rental includes fuel, maintenance and insurance costs. Zoomcar’s vehicles are dispersed in around 50 cities throughout India, using cars and office parks, so your ride is usually within walking distance. You can rent a car via an app on your smartphone, which also gives you keyless access to the car and the keys in the cubbyhole.
Many of these cars for rent are also the aforementioned subscription cars. These cars can be leased from Zoomcar for a minimum of six months to thirty-six months. After the initial six months, you can cancel the deal at any time. Lease cars are not all new, but they thoroughly serviced and fixed up before delivery to your door.
The Renault Kwid’s subscription will be around ₹15 000 (Indian rupees) or R3 200 per month. There is no down payment and insurance and maintenance are covered. You also get 24/7 roadside assistance. Please note though that although the rupee is currently worth R0.22, we are only using South African rands as context. The Indian economy is much different to the South African one, and you cannot compare a complex cost such as motoring on a simple exchange rate basis.
But there is more! You can add your car to Zoomcar’s rental pool and so recoup part of your subscription. You can do this via an app called ZAP. You enter when and for how long your car is available and now your car is on the Zoomcar’s main app. Once someone picks your cars to rent, there is no further interaction between you and the renter. The app directs him or her to your car and gives them the keyless entry on their phone. When the rental period is over, the renter returns your car to where you left it.
There can be major savings, depending on the model car you have and how many days a month you make it available for rent. For example, a Mahindra XUV’s subscription will be around R7 700 per month, but if you put up for rent for 20 days per month, this drops to around R3 200. For some small electrics, this cost will drop to almost nothing.
What do you think? Will you go into this kind of mobility sharing, or does the thought of someone else driving your car horrify you? Or will it be okay at the right price?