As the concept of mobility-as-a-service continues to grow, with more and more startups popping up in the GCC, we will continue to see new solutions to age-old problems.
Today, we will be exploring Udrive, a UAE car rental startup that operates in a manner similar to that of micromobility companies like Lime in the West, where vehicle pickup and drop off is nearly instantaneous and could happen almost anywhere within a designated city.
Udrive is also unlike other companies in that it lets customers actually pay for renting a car per the minute, and not just by a daily rate. This business model has paid off, as the company has recorded its millionth booked trip this September, having launched its operations during January of 2017.
Currently, it operates in Dubai, Sharjah, and Abu Dhabi. It completed its Series B funding round of $5 million last year.
Joining the service is easy, and can be completed in a few hours between filling in a sign-up form, presenting identification documents and a payment method, and having all this verified by the company.
The whole process of actually renting a car is quite ingenious, utilizing IoT technology. After booking and locating your designated vehicle, you use the app to unlock the car. Once inside, you need to enter a PIN on a device inside that unlocks the box holding the car keys.
The company provides its members with free fuel, RTA parking, and comprehensive insurance.
Adapting to a COVID-19 world
As with any other sharing economy enterprise, COVID-19 brings its own set of problems and concerns. As a result, Udrive has been tweaking its service to accommodate new government regulations and health and safety precautions.
According to the company, it has upgraded its approach to sanitization by using fogging machines and is currently beta testing additional virus killing technology. As to how the company actually maintains the cleanliness of their vehicles at all times, they have a decentralized bike fleet that is only dedicated to interior car sanitization, therefore keeping its service in line with the UAE government requirements for all travelers using public transport. With its latest investment round, Udrive plans to invest further into keyless and sanitization technologies.
Commenting on its latest offerings, Hasib Khan, CEO and Founder of Udrive said, “The pandemic has changed the way we work, socialize and transit. We understand that renting a car is no longer that much about affordability and convenience. It’s about providing the UAE residents and tourists with the option to minimize interaction with others and still enjoy the pleasure of a premium rental experience through contactless rentals. In Dubai alone, the number of driver licenses has increased to 2.5 million this year, compared to 1.8 million. This means people like to drive, but they are looking for smart and safe self-drive mobility options. Our customers don’t want to be queuing in long lines and want the ease of online registration, booking and contactless technology.”
According to a report by KPMG, half of the car owners today will no longer want to own a vehicle by 2025, indicating an increase in the trend of on-demand transportation services. Additionally, a report by ResearchAndMarkets forecasts that the car rental market is set to grow at a CAGR of 11.6% from now until 2022.