There are now about two weeks to go before the nationwide lockdown in India is lifted post which we can hope to resume life back to normalcy. A lot of industries around the world, including automobiles, have taken a huge negative impact due to the current situation with the coronavirus pandemic. While automobile manufacturing plants and our roads are empty, one sector has been working continuously to provide mobility solutions for frontline workers and essential service providers and has in fact witnessed substantial growth – self-drive car firms.
In fact, the industry may be looking at a boost in business in the post lockdown era since personal mobility is expected to gain much preference. We got in touch with Greg Moran, CEO and Co-Founder of ZoomCar, and Sunil Gupta, MD and CEO, Avis India, to learn more about how is the sector helping in such times of crisis while maintaining its employees’ safety as well.
What are the measures car rentals firms taking to assist the workforce on the frontline?
Greg Moran: Through our fleet of over 10,000 cars, Zoomcar is ensuring that mobility-as-a-service is available for anyone who needs it. Zoomcar has stepped up to ease the emergency transportation woes faced during the lockdown period. While Zoomcar grounded its fleet in accordance with the government’s shutdown order, the company is utilising select vehicles to ensure emergency mobility for the frontline workforce, including bankers, healthcare professionals, and delivery executives.
Zoomcar is partnering with various organisations that are considered essential in this lockdown period to ensure their employees are provided a safe commuting option. We routinely have thousands of inquiries per day for emergency service support and we are fulfilling them whenever possible. We’re seeing demand for thousands of vehicles on b2b. We have partnered with online retailers like Big Basket, Grofers, Milk Basket and Apollo Pharmacy for last-mile delivery, brands with offline stores like Big Bazaar, More and Spencer’s we provide both staff commute and last-mile delivery. For hospitals like Columbia Asia and Tata Memorial we provide staff commute.
How are vehicles being sanitized for use during the pandemic?
Greg Moran: We use sanitizers and tissues to wipe keys, steering, gear, front and back door handle and the pocket door hand rest. Our keyless entry system helps in avoiding any physical contact. We are educating all our employees, especially those who brave the situation on the ground and endeavor to provide an impeccable consumer experience, on the safety protocols to be followed for themselves.
Sunil Gupta: Our Fleet cars are getting disinfected on a daily basis. In particular, seats, steering wheels, door handles and other hard surfaces. We are cleaning our facilities frequently with recommended sanitizing products. Our company chauffeurs, operations team and employees & associates have been instructed to maintain the highest standards of personal hygiene.
We expect to see a significant spike in demand for personal mobility post lockdown. We are preparing for 3-4 x jump in demand - Greg Moran, CEO and Co-Founder of ZoomCar
What efforts are being taken to ensure the safety of drivers?
Greg Moran: We have done extensive sessions with our employees and fleet on standard recommendations to prevent infection and spread such as washing hands with soap before and after inspecting the vehicle after drop and pickup for a minimum of 20 seconds, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, avoiding close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illnesses such as coughing and sneezing etc. The company has further vowed to fully support any member of the organisation who gets infected, by the means of full monthly wages, overseeing medical expenses through its medical insurance coverage policy, paid leaves over and above the policy, and a lump sum amount.
Sunil Gupta: All our chauffeurs have been instructed to sanitize their hands every time they enter and exit the offices/rental hubs. They have also been provided with the essential personal protective equipment such as masks, safety gloves and hand sanitizers to safeguard them from the virulent pandemic. Moreover, the chauffeurs have been advised to refrain from making bodily contact with customers such as shaking hands etc.
What is the scale of impact on the industry – the challenges faced and the strategic imperatives that have been planned for when the lockdown lifts?
Greg Moran: In these trying times, Zoomcar is driven with a singular motto to minimize any disruptions in essential service and business partners while ensuring safety for individual service providers and contractors. The fight against coronavirus requires private and public sector players to come together and ensure that we achieve normalcy and make this world safer for everyone.
It’s probably the most fluid business crisis in recorded history given the various twists and turns. Teams are now officially getting into the groove in this new working reality. It is important to religiously follow daily stand-ups and staff meetings to ensure everyone is on the same page. Never waste a crisis. Use it as a teaching moment and as an opportunity for the team to become closer together and work at an even greater productivity level.
Sunil Gupta: It is a testing time for the travel industry, but our foremost priority is the safety of our customers and staff. We do not anticipate the travel confidence of customers to diminish in the extended run.
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