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Car-Sharing Startups Hit the Road in India

Startups look to change a culture of chauffeur-driven car rentals
Bandra–Worli Sea Link in Mumbai, India
Bandra–Worli Sea Link in Mumbai, IndiaPhotograph by Getty Images

On weekdays, Shrinidhi Hande, an IT consultant in Chennai, commutes to work on a motorcycle. On weekends, when he visits friends and family out of town, he rents a car from Zoomcar or Myles, two of a handful of car-sharing services in India. “Buying a car is a total waste of money,” he says. “Using these services, I get to drive the latest models without having to pay monthly installments, insurance, or maintenance.”

The startups, modeled after U.S. car-sharing service Zipcar, are gaining in popularity. Slow economic expansion has frozen income growth, and prime lending rates have risen 26 percent in the past five years, discouraging people from taking out car loans. “A lot of people don’t want to invest in cars,” says Abdul Majeed, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Chennai. “With traffic congestion and cost of ownership rising, and with poor public transport in most cities, car-sharing is bound to take off.” For younger Indians joining the workforce, car-sharing comes free of the hassle of maintaining the cars.