Driving into an Evolved Road Transportation Ecosystem: How Tech is Transforming India's Mobility Landscape

Sunil Gupta, CEO & MD,  Avis India An industry thought leader, Sunil comes with a strong ability to identify and address key drivers & issues impacting sales and marketing domain

It is an acknowledged fact that India has its fair share of mobility and road connectivity issues. Whether it is about last mile connectivity, tourists making their way around in a new city or large organizations offering transportation solutions for their employees, each aspect of urban mobility poses a range of challenges such as long travel times, congested roads, excessive fuel burn and polluted air.

India, however is n't alone in its quest to achieve mobility maturity. A recent report by international management consulting firm, Arthur D Little, states that "64 percent of all travel kilometers made are urban and the amount of travel within urban areas are expected to triple by 2050". The study also states that the success of cities worldwide will largely depend on how convenient it will be to get around their urban areas conveniently and with little environmental impact. The good news is that top mobility suppliers in the country are quickly stepping up their game in order to ensure future readiness of our cities from an urban connectivity standpoint.

It is well known that electric vehicles offer a strong solution to address the challenges of urban mobility and air pollution. In fact, active research in this area is targeted at making EV batteries more cost effective, reducing their charging time and enhancing the travel range. Further there is a large opportunity to be tapped with connected cars, which becomes further pronounced in the context of EVs. Datause is of prime importance asfar as popularizing EVs go. Connected EVS will allow commuters to be aware of the state of charge and the distance they can cover with the available charge. The widespread use of sensors will also be able to offer insightful data on traffic jams, road conditions breakdowns etc. further improving the urban mobility scenario considerably.

Whilst accelerated research is examining these areas, the sharing economy has emerged as one of the most relevant solutions available today to address urban mobility challenges. Through resource optimization, sharing economy service providers are able to control the number of cars on the road. Better fleet utilization and route planning further enable them to avoid dead mileage and futile burning of fuel.
Great strides have been made in this space by leading companies such as Avis India; providing hired cars, whether self driven or chauffeur driven, and leasing services have ensured that this alternative economy can thrive. The technology-driven fleet is equipped with GPS and Wi-Fi which ensures that time and mileage remain constantly monitored, further giving a fillip to the sustainability advantage. Additionally, tech enhancements such as live inventory models and centralized booking platforms make it possible to match demand and supply, thereby mitigating booking denial rates and enhancing customer satisfaction.

In India, there is a specifically urgent need for private players to leverage their expertise and technological capabilities to offer solutions that aren’t only reliable, safe and easy-to-use but also functional and cost optimized

Further,as the Avis eRA app (electronic rental agreement) for chauffeurs makes the entire ride booking process completely automated and paperless. It adds a thrust to the sustainable narrative. After the end of each ride, the driver feeds expenses and uploads images of parking, toll and others which are pushed to the fleet management system called Carpro for invoice generation. The automation of the entire ride booking, starting and completion process eliminates any possibility of human error and also obviates the use of paper completely.

Key Concerns in Urban Mobility Context
Women’s safety is another key concern in the urban mobility context which many leading players are still struggling to counter. Recently, there have been many reports from around the world that highlight the potential dangers today raise further concerns about the need for stringent security on all cab hailing, ride-sharing or car rental services. To combat this problem, Avis India, for instance, has ensured that all its cars are equipped with assistance buttons. Avis Secure Desk for female travelers also instills a sense of security amongst women at the start and end of the journey.

In terms of the leasing model, service providers offer cars to large organizations and incorporate several tech enhancements that make the process completely automated and streamlined. Further, they offer repair and maintenance contracts in which the lessee receives regular updates on the servicing schedule of the car. Often the leasing company also gets the car serviced on behalf of its clients. This is imperative as better serviced cars reduce air pollution and toxic emissions significantly. Break down assistance and other value-added services via digital platforms further ensure customer stickiness.

While all of these tech innovations mean that customers remain completely satisfied leading to better sales and business, their socio environmental impact is also considerable. This technologyled disruption gradually results in decreased propensity amongst citizens to purchase their own vehicles which reduces the number of cars on the roads, leads to better asset utilization and ensures an overall more sustainable urban mobility landscape in the country.

Highgrade mobility is the key enabler for socio economic development in any country. In India, there is a specifically urgent need for private players to leverage their expertise and technological capabilities to offer solutions that aren’t only reliable, safe and easy to use but also functional and cost-optimized. Problems such as road congestion, traffic, polluted air and an unreliable mobility landscape cannot be wished away. They have to be dealt with pro-actively and competently so that Indian citizens want to really depend on these solutions and government and policy making bodies are eager to lend their support to them.