In the U.S., the growing popularity of ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft have caused many consumers to forgo car ownership altogether. In India, however, we’re starting to see a slightly different trend. According to The New York Times, commuters in India are often eschewing Uber rides and instead opting to rent electric motorbikes.
Several startups in the nation are betting on the idea that shared “two-wheelers” will be a more reliable and cost-effective way of traveling around cities than hailing rides. One such venture, Bounce, was founded on the idea that car rides are too expensive and unnecessary to boot. Instead of using cars, the company offers more than 6,000 motorbikes that people can pick up and drop off anywhere in Bangalore.
“You can’t make it affordable with a driver,” said Vivekananda Hallekere, Bounce’s co-founder and chief executive. “And if users know how to use a scooter, why do you need a driver?”
While companies like Uber are huge in the United States, other sorts of transportation companies are thriving in places like India, where there are many consumers who can’t afford to pay for car rides. In India, two-wheeled vehicles outsell cars at a ratio of six to one, which means the business world has been forced to draw up a new model. The nation is the perfect setting for a thriving motorized scooter industry; it’s estimated that 200 million people there have a license to drive at least a basic two-wheeler.
Whether bike-sharing or scooter-sharing companies have real staying power, in India or elsewhere, remains an open question. Right now, sharable motorbikes are still relatively hard to find. The two leading companies, Bounce and Vogo, are each trying to get 50,000 of their scooters on the streets of major cities like Bangalore, but that’s a long-term process. These companies are having a modest amount of success with attracting new customers, but they may find it a challenge to keep them coming back.
“You want it to be habit-forming for the customer,” said Anand Ayyadurai, Vogo’s co-founder and chief executive.