The self-drive car rental space was once an unregulated and unorganised sector; however, today it has gained a lot of traction. During the early years, companies like AVIS were already in the game. But neither the sector nor the company got the traction it needed. In 2013, Zoomcar entered the arena and the concept of self-drive car rental took that much need flight. And now, the car rental industry in India is prophesied to be worth ₹1,000 billion by 2022.
To know more about this industry and for this week’s Deep Dive, Analytics India Magazine got in touch with Sunil Gupta, MD and CEO at AVIS India, one of the top players in India’s self-drive car rental space. During the interaction, Sunil has also talked about how the company is making the best use of all the latest technologies to better its services.
Being in the industry for over 2 decades now, AVIS India has established itself as one of the leading self-drive car rental companies. Through the years, the company has not only worked on tailor-made self-drive car rental but also the company has ventured into leasing cars. Today, AVIS has 8,000 cars in its fleet which is spread over 19 cities.
Gupta believes that the reason behind AVIS’ success is the fact that it has made its complete process digital — both internal and external. While there are other companies that provide car rental, they are still stuck with the traditional pen and paper method where the customer needs to enter all the details. But AVIS has moved a step forward and integrated its ERP with the customer’s ERP. “It has made the entire process really efficient, even the billing has become much more accurate,” said Gupta.
The Tech Stack
Another application which works closely with the CarPro application is the Electronic Rental Agreement (eRA). The rental agreement created in CarPro is sent in Electronic form to the mobile handset of Chauffeur through API, then the Chauffeur performs the duty as per details mentioned in eRA. This is a mobile application for the Android Operating System.
Talking about the database, MongoDB is used and is hosted in MapMyIndia server, New Delhi.
Synchrony, which is the company’s web-based CRM application also plays a major role. The application is developed using Velocity and Java as front-end and it runs on Jboss application server. Talking about the backend, Asterisk is used to manage the voice calls.
The Role Of Data
This experienced car rental player is also very enthusiastic when it comes to data. One of the aspects is to track the age and performance of cars. AVIS makes sure that the cars are not old enough for a better ride and also makes sure that the resale value of the cars is decent. Further, based on historical data of each car model, the company is also able to predict the maintenance cost for cars. “It’s very crucial to us and we use a lot of internal data to figure out the value of the care when a lease is over,” Gupta added.
Another aspect is when a car comes with connected devices at the OEM level. In this scenario, data helps in delivering information to the fleet owner — from petrol level to tyre pressure to maintenance time frame. However, Gupta has said that not much is happening in terms of OEM when it comes to connected cars.
Gupta’s Take On Competition
When asked about the competition in the market, Gupta said for AVIS is much more about solving the pain-points in the domain. Mobility today has different variants and every variant is trying to solve a problem. For example, one of the issues is ownership vs access, when you own a car you have to take care of a lot of things, but when you subscribe a car, the company takes care of everything from servicing to documentation — all you have to do is pay the monthly subscription fee. So, Gupta believes that companies like AVIS and other players are all part of this shared variant. However, AVIS is definitely the pioneer as it has seen the industry transform over the decades and has stayed abreast with it.
But when it comes to winning in the domain, it’s about the level of service you provide and the other add-ons you give to the customers — it could be any form, hide hailing, rent, lease, cab service etc.
The Future Direction
Now, the company is planning to venture into ridesharing. Not only that, but it is also looking to explore the electric car space. When it comes to the challenges of keeping the cars charged up, the company is also planning to set up charging stations — both at its hub and on the customers’ end. And the next plan of AVIS is to go seriously about connected cars as it feels that connected cars is still there in the horizon and has not completely incorporated in India.