In recent years, India has turned on the ignition sparking a development in evolving technology and business models aimed at innovating the national transportation sector.
With a population of 1.3 billion, and a growing middle class, the amount of automobiles on the road is hitting breaking point. Delhi alone holds seven million vehicles, resulting in congested traffic, chaotic commutes, and pollution increase. Startups in particular are set to take advantage of this open market, looking at innovative ways to provide convenience, cost-effective and greener mobility solutions and services for commuters.
This year’s squabble between Uber and Ola has attracted entrepreneurs to launch new car-hailing apps seeking to capitalise on the discontent of these leaders in India’s $8 billion taxi market. Cabby, a New Delhi-based startup, has lured in drivers with their higher fares and better terms, such as accidental insurance cover, signing up 27,800 drivers in a week. Even India’s Ministry for Transportation announced in July this year their ambition to create a government-run taxi booking app.
However, with India’s notoriously busy roads, new startups on the scene are looking to more pragmatic solutions to standstill traffic: innovating two-wheeled transport.
Baxi Taxi, a motorcycle-hailing company, and Jugnoo an auto rickshaw hailing app are two examples of startups that have been riding out the competition in India. Although not exactly fitting the two wheeler category, Jugnoo is unique in its use of autos. After launching in Gurgaon in 2014, the startup is now successfully operating in over 40 of India’s bustling cities, and already claims five million users.
There has been a much needed swerve towards electric vehicles in the country, especially with the level of pollution in major cities hitting severe levels. Last week, Delhi’s government had to close schools and introduce a city-wide emergency as air quality readings soared, reportedly hitting 969 (the World Health Organization considers anything above 25 to be unsafe).
E-bicycles have also joined the ride, with startups such as Spero, and Hulikkal Electro developing battery run bikes. Spero recently managed to raise Rs 38.65 lakh through Bengaluru-based crowdfunding platform Fueladream.
With a dashboard that overseas GPS tracking and ID logs for all the bikes, “theft and vandalism has not been a huge problem” for the startup, says Chauhan. Instead the startup has been attracting more attention, particularly due to the eco-friendly design of the innovation. Although one of the biggest challenges Letzcycle has had to overcome is fundraising, Chauhan says that due to the air quality in Delhi, and changing attitudes towards the environment, “now people are coming to us.” As a reliable service that gets you from A to B, anywhere, or as a last mile commute home, without having to fumble with lose change, return the vehicle or wait in traffic, Letzcycle is perhaps ideal for Urban India.
It is clear that two wheeler innovations–whether that’s an electric scooter, motorbike sharing, or dockless bikes–are manoeuvering the public transportation system towards a much needed revival.