Diminishing two-wheeler buying threshold: Ownership vs shared mobility

Many rental providers offer flexible subscription plans, lending a temporary sense of ownership to riders. The customers can pick from various rental plans to make their rides as convenient and contactless as possible.

September 22, 2021 4:48 PM

The dynamics of vehicle ownership in India have been constantly evolving since the nascent stages of shared mobility, almost a decade ago. It has been a journey of rediscovery and unlearning for the Original Equipment Managers (OEMs), mobility players and city planners as the commuters grappled with the truth that one doesn’t have to own a bike or car to go from point A to point B. With cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Kolkata losing ₹1.47 lakh crore(1) annually to congestion costs and vehicular emissions going up by the minute, it is vital that we seek more convenient and affordable commute solutions.

Ours has been a culture that has always equated ownership with success. But with changing times, the buying trends are also transforming. Today, India is the land of startups and thriving digital infrastructure, uniquely placed at the cusp of a socio-economic revolution. Though the mobility sector took a blow from Covid-19, ride-hailing and rental services are picking up pace again. P&S Intelligence has predicted that the Indian shared mobility market is expected to grow by 56% in the next few years, with its revenue reaching a whopping $3,952.8 million(2) by 2025.

Given the current pandemic scenario and the altered consumer perceptions, here are a few factors that I believe will tilt the scale in favour of two-wheeler rentals as opposed to ownership.

The Shift from Ownership to Usership

To millennials, the concept of winning in life is not tied to assets anymore. They invest in experiences rather than assets. Given their fast-moving lifestyle and the rising cost of living, more and more youngsters are choosing to rent houses, furniture and vehicles. As many of them tend to shift cities for job changes, not being tied down by assets is a convenient choice. The pandemic too has played a part in this “rent” revolution. As the frequency of people going out has reduced, renting a vehicle is a smart choice than investing in a personal vehicle, be it for an urgent errand, the weekly grocery run, sporadic office commutes or occasional hangout plans.

The Thriving E-commerce Culture

We live in an era of convenience where everything gets delivered to our doorstep. Along with the growth of online infrastructure in India, the fleet of delivery personnel has also increased exponentially. Food and e-commerce delivery workers were our lifeline during the lockdown, and theirs were two-wheeler rentals. The majority of these workers choose to rent scooters or bikes as they do not want to be tied up with maintenance costs or worry about vehicle wear and tear.

The Rise of Short-term Rental Subscriptions

Many vehicle rental providers are adding flexible subscription plans to their offerings, lending a temporary sense of ownership to riders. The customers can take their pick from daily, weekly or monthly rental plans to make their rides as convenient and contactless as possible. With lack of contact being a top priority at the moment, the subscription model is swiftly gaining traction in the shared mobility market. In fact, it offers all the advantages of owning a two-wheeler, minus the hassles of asset depreciation, vehicle insurance or the calculation of resale value.

The Emergence Of Mobility As A Service (MaaS)

The future of mobility will be smart, predictive and connected. MaaS can be defined as a centralised system or platform where all transportation modes will be streamlined into a single unit. By developing and deploying a mobile app, you will be able to book a scooter, scan your route, complete the ride, pay for it and leave a review, all with a single tap. MaaS coupled with the rent-over-buy movement will accelerate last-mile connectivity. In a few years, we will be looking at connected micromobility running the show. It would make an impact, not just on the individual rider but also on the corporates that would hire two-wheelers to operate within their campuses and around metro stations.

The Growing Concern About Sustainability

With every Internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle purchase, the tailpipe emissions will keep going up. While it is evident that going electric is the most straightforward solution to reduce our carbon footprint, a 100% transition would take at least a decade. Until then, shared mobility is a viable option when travelling short distances, as it can reduce tailpipe-based GHG emissions and other harmful pollutants like nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide.

The mobility choices we make today as individuals and as a country are crucial, be it socially, economically or medically. With affective planning and awareness, widespread adoption of shared mobility and the optimised utilisation of existing assets, we could save 1.5 gigatonnes of CO2(3) and cut the annual mobility demand by nearly 1,800 billion km in 2035. Since we intend to share the Earth a while longer, let’s make up our minds to share mobility too.

Works Cited

1. “Traffic Congestion Costs Economy Rs 1.47 Lakh Crore Annually in Four Metros | India News – Times of India.” The Times of India, Times of India, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/traffic-congestion-costs-economy-rs-1-47-lakh-crore-annually-in-four-metros/articleshow/63916184.cms

2. Intelligence. “Indian Shared Mobility Market Revenue Worth $3,952.8 Million by 2025 Says P&S Intelligence.” PR Newswire: Press Release Distribution, Targeting, Monitoring and Marketing, 4 Mar. 2021, https://www.prnewswire.com/in/news-releases/indian-shared-mobility-market-revenue-worth-3-952-8-million-by-2025-says-p-amp-s-intelligence-840880939.html.

3. Raj, Pritish, and Auto. “Niti Aayog: Shared Mobility, Electrification to Save 1.5 Gigatonnes of CO2: Niti Aayog, Auto News, ET Auto.” ETAuto.Com, ETAuto, 17 Sept. 2018, https://auto.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/industry/shared-mobility-electrification-to-save-1-5-gigatonnes-of-co2-niti-aayog/65841178.

Author: Anand Ayyadurai, Co-founder and CEO, Vogo Automotive Pvt. Ltd.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the original author. These views and opinions do not represent those of The Indian Express Group or its employees.

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