Is this the thing one would want to do, I thought as I read about self-drive car hire they plan to put in place at Bangalore international airport (BIAL). Hertz will provide 30 vehicles initially, on self-drive basis to air passengers who are used to taking a chauffer-driven vehicle from HAL airport. Idea is new to India. I can’t see Premji, Mallya or Kiran Mazumdar Shaw stepping out of the arrival lounge and taking to the wheel to drive home from the airport.
My middle-class mind wonders why well-heeled guys would want to self-drive through a maddening traffic in Bangalore city. Maybe I am overstating the scenario. Most international flights would, presumably, land and take off, as they do now, in the middle of the night when the city traffic wouldn’t be that mad.
“BIAL does see a demand for self-drive cars at the airport,” says CEO Albert Brunner. Wonder which class of people he has in mind. Senior executives who are entitled to the company car and driver? Or visiting company clients? They are met at the arrival gate by drivers holding placards that read ‘Mr Mani of Infy’, ‘Mr Perumal for HCL’, ‘Mr Li Yu for yahoo’ or ‘Mr Brunner from Reuter’.
Are the Yu’s, the Perumals and Manis the targeted customers for self-drive car hire? Hertz spokesman H R Venkataraman is quoted in The Hindu as saying his company would market the concept aggressively, though he concedes that our awareness of the concept In India is low.
Hertz self-drive car hire may be commonplace in Europe and the US. People there find this a convenient way to get around, particularly on cross-country trips. You pick up a Hertz vehicle from their parking lot in your town; leave it at a designated point or airport any place else, and fly home. Hertz clients are usually travelling executives and tourists. Many car-owners in the US take self-drive Hertz cars for long distance travel. They do not want to run up the mileage meter of their own vehicles. Higher mileage showing in a car lowers its re-sale value and, presumably, raises insurance payment.
Driving in the US or Europe isn’t a hassle like here, and it can even be a pleasant experience. Wish we could say the same about Bangalore. Roads in our place are not designed for one’s driving pleasure. BIAL self-drive car hire entails payment of refundable accident deposit at the time of hiring. Your vehicle is delivered with its tank full; and you are expected to return it with its fuel tank filled up.
Daily hire charges range between Rs.1,300 and Rs. 5,500 plus VAT, depending on the category of the vehicle hired. The rates, presumably, work out cheaper than chauffer-driven vehicles. But taxi ought to be cheaper and a more sensible option.
Self-drive car, as marketed by BIAL, aims at high-end air passengers. Aren’t thinking of heli-shuttle service as well ? My sense is Hertz is big business in the West because it is positioned to cater to the middle-class tourists and business travelers.
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