Zoomcar Accelerates Towards ‘Smarter’ Cars With Technology As Fuel
A popular alternative to renting cars with a driver, Zoomcar’s self drive rented cars have become smarter with technologies that are AI powered.
The phenomenon of rented self-drive cars didn’t take long to take off in India. Zoomcar, founded by Greg Moran and David Back, is a car rental company based in Bengaluru that has created a business model around renting ‘self-drive’ cars to people in a convenient way.
The customer can book their car online, have it picked up in a spot nearby and can be on the road. They also offer home delivery services where the car is picked up from the customer’s home. The company has taken a step towards revamping ordinary cars and making them smart.
In a conversation with Greg Moran, CEO and Co-founder of Zoomcar, Express Computer’s Radhika Udas delves into the technology that Zoomcar is leveraging to accelerate their sales.
Kindly brief us about Zoomcar and what are the key offerings compared to competitors?
Zoomcar holds the distinction of being India’s first self-drive mobility platform, with the introduction of car sharing services in 2013 and today is the market leader in the self-drive space with over 10,000 cars in its fleet. With a strong focus on the mobile experience, Zoomcar allows users to rent cars by the hour, day, week, or month.
Headquartered in Bangalore, Zoomcar is over 250 people strong and operates in 45+ cities across India. In 2018, Zoomcar introduced India’s first peer2peer based marketplace for cars with the launch of its shared subscription mobility model and currently commands over 90% market share in this space. We offer a comprehensive suite of car rentals. From hatchbacks to sedans and premium vehicles, we offer users with over 10,000 options to choose from at Zoomcar. These are made more attractive with exciting deals and promotions that we come up with at various occasions or long weekend breaks.
With the growth of the shared economy across the globe, subscription-based car ownership is becoming an increasing trend. Zoomcar recently hit a massive 15000 car subscription run rate through its shared mobility platform in Aug 2019 alone. This feat makes it the third-largest automobile player in India in terms of volume moved, just next to Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai Motor India. Zoomcar has also recently launched India’s first vehicle model agnostic Driver Score Tech Stack for the passenger car segment. The AI-Powered algorithm with machine learning capabilities tracks the mechanical specs of the car being driven, driving style of the customer and identifies critical events of driving and rates it on a scale of 0-100.
Where do you plan to use the revenue in the near future?
Going by the growing demand for self-drive mobility solutions in India, we are certain of achieving the target by next fiscal. Shared subscription being our huge growth area, our aim is to engage in deep integrations with OEMs on the software side along with focusing on large scale financial institutions as asset owners. We plan to use our revenue for growth, technology & data science with a strong focus on enhancing an industry-leading IoT layout in addition to our shared subscription service.
What kind of technologies are you using currently at Zoomcar?
Car is the most important asset to us and tracking its location and health is a business necessity. We have built an intelligent tool called Cadabra that tracks important data about the car in real-time. Cadabra tracks the distance travelled, fuel used, clutch performance, etc. and helps car owners or drivers keep tabs on important performance metrics like clutch position, harsh braking, inconsistent acceleration, seat belt usage and engine health, among others. Equipped with Bluetooth and 4G connectivity, Cadabra receives OTA updates and also connects with emergency services in case of on-road accidents. With the monitoring system, Zoomcar ensures driver safety by sending alerts of speeding or any rash driving activity. The alert system is voice-activated and embedded in the audio system which plays saying “you need to slow down your speed, over speeding is dangerous”.
The real-time collision detection system inside the car monitors the possibility of collision. If you are about to collide at high speed it alerts the driver about the momentum. We have data insights on the fuel requirement of the car. With the AI system we analyse the refill time and suggest customers with nearest fuel pump to refill the tank. This feature helped us gain trust while micro-managing customer challenge and maintaining hassle-free driving experience. As the journey comes closer to the end, Zoomcar analyses the current geolocation, distance and time required to reach the drop location of the car.
What newer technologies are you planning to use?
We shall be coming up with subscription-based ratings to create a more credible ecosystem. Simultaneously, we shall also be leveraging computer vision to bolster our initiatives for detecting damages done to the car. We are also keen on introducing a dynamic pricing model, offering the best prices to the customer after analysing demand curves of cars with geo locations and other factors like weekends, festivals, surge timings, and holidays, amongst others.
Furthermore, powered with insights into customer behaviour and historical patterns, we are ready to start a customer recommendation box on the app to offer personalised discounts and vouchers, and notify about several factors in real-time such as a sharp turn ahead or when one’s favourite restaurant is on the way.
Please elaborate on how you are making cars ‘smart’ using this technology?
The advantages of a device like this is that it can be customised for each car as is required for the business. Zoomcar monitors and generates data every second from the car movement to understand driving pattern — whether the driver is speeding, applying hard brakes or driving rashly. We realised that Indian drivers are more aggressive on the road with rental cars and are prone to drive rashly. To manage this customer nature, we developed a system known as Driver Score powered by AI.
The AI Powered algorithm with machine learning capabilities tracks the mechanical specs of the car being driven, and driving style of the customer. It identifies critical events of driving and rates it on a scale of 0-100. The scoring system has capabilities to give real time feedback to drivers in the advent of rash driving to help them adjust their behaviour accordingly. Within the first month of its launch, the driver score has successfully reduced accident rate by 20% and maintenance and servicing cost by 25% for Zoomcar. The data generated from the vehicle movement helps us to understand driver behaviour. With real time monitoring we have alerts for the driver which help customers get control over the car at the right time and prevent accidents.
Along with connected cars, you also plan to have a fleet of EVs. What changes would that bring to price?
Electric vehicles represent the future of mobility and at Zoomcar we are determined to help Indians drive into the future without any hassles or long-term commitments. In the Electric Vehicles segment we have recently announced our fleet of electric vehicles (EVs) completing over 1 crore kms in the last quarter. Today, Zoomcar already has over 500 EVs on the road making it the largest electric shared mobility fleet in the country with plans to add another 1000 cars within the next year and 10,000 cars by 2021. We are thrilled to bring innovative, green mobility solutions to the people and our recent milestone of covering over 1 crore kms in the last quarter is testament to our endeavour in promoting a clean environment. At Zoomcar, we have always empowered our customers with better mobility alternatives and will continue doing so at scale with new announcements on several additional EV offerings in the coming months.