Corporate Car Rentals: From Fleet Exclusivity To Sharing The Resources

Satadru Sinha, Senior Director - Head - Admin & Facilities, SynechronSynechron is a leading digital IT Consulting firm, accelerating the digital initiatives for banks, asset managers, and insurance companies around the world. Synechron's unique and end-to-end Digital, Business Consulting, and Technology services, provides the clients with innovative solutions that solve their most complex business challenges.

In the recent past, corporate car rentals have been undergoing a sea change from being a fleet rental agency to uberization of timeshare in executive sedans. Earlier, the agencies concentrated mainly on Fleet management and owned cars. However, over a period of time, this changed, and it was the fleet aggregators who scored higher than the conventional corporate car rental agencies. Time-sharing was the call of the day, and of course, vehicles with clean and hygienic interiors with English speaking chauffeurs with cutting edge technology, including the GPS installed, scored a duck over others.

The availability of vehicles and connectivity and availability of executive class vehicles are tiding over others. With this, the agencies are required to have a strong financial capability to backup late payments from corporate customers who normally run on credit business. Increasingly the Mercedes, BMWs, and Audis are being made available to senior executives who brace their cars as a status symbol to attend client meetings. Hence in today's small world, small operators have joined hands with aggregators to
make vehicles available in a pool. Gone are the fleet exclusivity, and all have geared up for a resource-sharing agreement. With the likes of Hertz and Oryx, the game has stepped up to the best of competition. Pricing points are no longer considered to be exclusive but more competitive.

When supply exceeds demand in a currently economically volatile market, the rates are bound to be pushed down. Aggregators are tying up with multiple vehicle owners, and the pool is increasing by the day across cities, metros, and even smaller towns. Accessibility is a matter of great interest wherein aggregators are looking at market penetration. In smaller towns and tier 2 and 3 cities in the hinterland of India, corporates are going increasingly to visit customers, and the car rental agencies and aggregators are looking at market penetration. It is running this extra mile, which keeps the agencies afloat in the market. The vehicle acquisition model has completely changed. At the backend, the vehicle owners are going for vehicle leasing rather than owning; hence the acquisition of luxury brands has become more affordable. The auto majors also run the maintenance scheme, and car giants like Ford are finding more profits in the mobility business rather than making cars.

In today's small world, small operators have joined hands with aggregators to make vehicles available in a pool

Along with the variety and availability, certain operational factors like the capability to provide backup vehicles also provide an agency an edge over others. The tie-ups with hotels are also an advantageous factor wherein hotels provide car pickup and drops to and from airports in metros and other cities. The tie-ups and working on pan India based rate contracts also ensure secured business to corporate car rental agencies. English speaking chauffeurs are a must, and driver grooming has an important role to play much like the finishing schools. Maintenance of vehicles must always be done from the car manufacturers' workshops. Signing Trip sheets are now a thing of the past, and electronic signatures on pre-programmed tablets are the call of the day to prevent data tampering and ensure billing integrity.

The metamorphosis of car rentals over the last decade has graduated from one of the car rental operators to that of an aggregator-driven market and uberization. Resource sharing has become the key to growth and survival in the current market scenario.