Shared mobility companies are facing weak recovery in ride numbers, even as the economy unlocks following nearly two months of a nationwide shutdown.This is as per a report in the Economic Times.
The outlook for cabs, rental services, bikes and auto rickshaws for the full year also looks dim, as people in cities fear stepping out due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
Drop in tourism and corporate travel is also hurting shared rides.
The two biggest ride-hailing aggregators, Ola and Uber, have recovered only about 20% of ride volume levels seen before the pandemic hit, and the full-year estimate is at best 50%, driver associations, analysts and company insiders have been quoted in the report.
“There is no demand…after waiting for 12 hours, drivers are hardly getting 3-4 bookings versus 16-20 bookings earlier,” said Tanveer Pasha, president of Ola Uber Drivers and Owners’ Association. Drivers’ associations in Chennai, Hyderabad, Delhi, and Mumbai have seen slower uptick, he added.
Uber said the recovery varies across city and product lines, with some cities doing better than others and its low-cost products, especially Auto and Moto, recovering faster than other categories.
An Ola spokesperson told ET in an email that it had witnessed positive growth over the past weeks, both nationally and globally, as cities open up and economic activity is restored.
“In many of the major cities that have opened up, we are already serving up to 50% rides compared to the pre-Covid-19 phase,” the company said. ET was not able to independently corroborate this from driver-partners and analysts.
Bike rental startups Bounce, Yulu and Vogo have recovered 25-30% from pre-pandemic levels.
Bike taxi Rapido has seen about 15% recovery in its core offering, industry sources said, although it has been the fastest to re-utlise its assets for B2B deliveries. In an emailed response on Wednesday, Rapido said it’s witnessed 25% recovery in its business.
“During the lockdown, we witnessed the transportation and overall mobility factor come to a complete standstill. We decided to pivot our focus to accelerate our logistics business, extending our logistics to grocery businesses,” said Aravind Sanka, co-founder, Rapido.
The ride-hailing industry is, however, different as it is heavily dependent on work trips during peak hours and social trips during weekends and non-peak hours. Over the last 3 months, as people started working from home and stopped moving around, it has become tough for ride aggregators.
“The unique problem in India is that 10 cities contribute more than 85% business for these companies. These major cities are the most impacted ones, too. Thus, until the lockdown is fully removed from these cities, things will not be better,” said Jaspal Singh, co-founder of transportation consulting firm Valoriser Consultants.
Demand is expected to improve to 50-60% in the last quarter of the year, Singh said.
Bike rental company Yulu said safety from Covid-19 infections is the topmost concern for commuters.
“Users find Yulu as the safest mode of commute due to our single-seater vehicles and frequent sanitization,” said Amit Gupta, its cofounder. Yulu raised Rs 30 crore from Rocketship on Monday.
Bounce and Vogo are, however, leveraging B2B channels to generate demand.
Ola, for instance, has committed Rs 500 crore to build over 500 fumigation centres across the country, and to train drivers.