Thursday, February 3, 2011

Can there be a ZipCar in India?

I had really liked the idea of ZipCar when I first came across it on TED talks.

Every time I see a parking mess in Indian residential areas, I keep wondering whether it is at all possible in India. A major problem is that each family seems to need a second or a third car or .... The reasons may be varied but clearly public transport does not seem to offer a solution.

A recent ad of Nano with extended warranty and maintenance services included at a low cost  made me think whether this could a viable alternative for creating a shared pool of cars, at least, as a replacement for  second/third cars for a family.

What if it could start with cooperative societies. Any large society should be able to afford and buy a few cars, which could be shared by the residents who may pay reasonable usage charges. The society may even hire a driver for older residents and/or just picking up or dropping members at a convenient point from where alternate mode of transport would be available. For Delhi and Mumbai and, soon, Bangalore, these could be the nearest metro/suburban train stations.

This may even help bring back some social interaction between society members as life in coop societies is increasingly becoming isolated and anonymous.

An online application could make it easy for society members to keep track of the bookings and usage of cars. May be TATA's can encourage and promote such usage as a compensation for putting still more cars on the roads!


  1. Sir excellent.I had go the same Idea

  2. Arent cabs so cheap and readily available in India [specially in big cities where the Zipcar concept could apply] that anybody would want to call the cab rather than pick up a car and drive in the traffice. Plus there is the insurance factor for cars like zipcars. Somebody has to cover the insurance cost, which will bring the cost of the concept pretty close to a cheap cab.. my thoughts.. but yes, I agree the idea has its potential.. your blog was the first link when I googled for "Zipcar in India".. way to go...
    [disclaimer] : I dont live in India and dont have the exact idea on how easy or cheap cab service is.

    1. Taxis are easy to get only in Mumbai. Elsewhere, a 3 wheeler is the more common option. However, you may be at the driver's mercy as they are often reluctant to go where you want to go.

      Radio taxis are becoming available, however, not that easily or quickly. I nearly missed a train in spite of booking a cab a day before. I had to call and chase half a dozen times various drivers of the cab company at dawn to get a cab I had booked!

      The more serious issue is the mess in residential areas, with people owning multiple cars for the reasons above and parking is becoming a very serious constraint, and a source of conflict between neighbours. So, the motivation for zip cars in India would be very different from that in the west, but the need is even greater.

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  4. Haven't you heard of ? Its available and doing awesome in Bangalore.