CXOs in the automotive space have, for some time now, unanimously and quite vociferously opined that shared mobility will be one of the biggest disruptors in the sector.
And the trend is not only altering the business model of automobile manufacturers, it is also redefining the way cars are engineered. Auto component manufacturers are not just focusing on ways to improve component life and resiliency, they are also beginning to embrace the ‘as-a-service’ model that has struck a chord with consumers.
The self-drive market has expanded from USD 900 million in 2016 to USD 1.5 billion in 2018, and projected to expand to USD 2 billion by 2020.
Leading the self-drive market in India, with a plush 70 percent market share is Zoomcar – the company that started off with a modest 7-car fleet has now procured over 7,000 cars, catering to over 2000 rides every day.
CIO India, in an exclusive interaction with Greg Moran, co-founder and CEO of Zoomcar, brings to light the evolution of the self-drive market in India; the significance of the Internet of Moving Things; and why security threats from e-vehicles will become increasingly relevant.
How has the self-drive market evolved in India? Where do you see it in the next 5 years?
From being a one-off use case like a holiday occasion, in about five years, self-drive has become an everyday need. The future of mobility in India is going to be shared and sustainable, and self-drive is one of the pillars on which this is being built.
By the end of 2019, we will have 20,000 cars. Leading auto majors are also helping develop this market on the basis of consumer behaviour changing rapidly. From the likes of Ford and Mahindra who are actively involved with Zoomcar, to Hyundai's recent investment in Revv, and of course, Yamaha's investment in Drivezy.
Young millennials, a group that comprises of 35 percent of the populace, is a key motivator for growth in this space.
The young generation of India is more skewed to a subscription and pay-per-use based lifestyle than an asset-hoarding one – a key characteristic of their predecessors. This fits the bill perfectly when we take the self-drive market offering into consideration.
Also as we march towards development, the need of sustainable mobility becomes increasingly critical. With each passing day, our cities are deteriorating – be it the water, air quality or space.
With a situation like this, a sustainable model of shared mobility, like the self-drive car rental space, not only becomes important, but becomes critical from the environment standpoint as well.
What technology trends will we see in the auto sector due to the growth of the self-drive business model?
Clearly IoMT (Internet of Moving Things) is where the future is – we’re looking at an ecosystem of connected vehicles. As is the case of self-drive models, with players giving away high value assets for very low security, it becomes imperative to keep a tab on the assets.
This is where IoMT is of crucial importance. Zoomcar is the first and only player to extensively invest in tech – all of which is home grown. With IoMT, Zoomcar tracks each of its 7000+ cars plying on the roads.
We keep a tab on data which includes the vitals of the vehicle, the driver's score (this tracks the driver behaviour) and other information to continuously improve the customer's experience. This also helps us map customer behaviour more accurately and tailor marketing efforts based on them.
Another technology space that is likely to see a surge is that of tech-enabled sharing of vehicles. The key essence of any self-drive business model is sustainable mobility and sharing is the trump card.
Now sharing of vehicles need technology intervention to make it operationally viable. As the self-drive business model scales, it becomes imperative for companies to also develop technologies which will become key enablers.
One of the best examples of this is ZAP Subscribe. With ZAP Subscribe, you can get the car of your choice without going through the hassles of owning it. So no down payment, no maintenance and no insurance.
With the intervention of technology, the car ownership model has changed, leasing has become cheaper and the hassles of owning a car are gone.
How is Zoomcar leveraging mobility and social to engage with its customers and expand its customer base?
We, as a brand, celebrate freedom that comes with travel and the notion and idea of travelling. Now travel as a space is very inspiring and social. People want to follow travellers, they want to be a part of the experiences of travellers. Taking this insight as the pillar of our influencer marketing initiative, we leverage these travel influencers and reach out to our target audience.
These efforts make travelling impromptu and add a social value to it. And when people see us as a brand that supports these ideas, they make room for us in their consideration list.
Also when we use influencers, we build a social equity around travelling, which eventually extends to our brand.
The future of e-cabs in the Indian market – What plans does Zoomcar have around this?
Electric cars will gradually scale in India over the next three years, however the material movement in electric car penetration will only take place in the next four to seven years due to the near to medium-term product mix combined with a weak regulatory framework to support electric car costs.
It will take four to seven years to establish domestic manufacturing of electric cars at scale, combined with the necessary battery cells and modules that will help drive down unit costs.
How serious is the issue of security threats arising from connected cars. Since Zoomcar also leverages telematics and connectivity, what steps has the company taken to ensure data privacy and security?
The security threat from connected cars in India is very nominal at present. Cars here are simply not as connected as they are in other parts of the world and as such, there are limits to any potential hack.
Having said that, security in connected cars is an emerging area which will become increasingly relevant as electric cars take off in India, since these cars are inherently more connected with more integrated systems. Ultimately, the public sector must step up and provide frameworks for operators and OEMs to follow.
Zoomcar doesn’t have any inward facing cameras and doesn’t interfere with the user’s core privacy. We don’t store any data or private information as such. In fact, we don’t even officially store the payment details of our customers.