a close up of a toy car

© Provided by The Financial Express

Imagine booking a cab on a car service app and waiting for it to turn up. You’re probably thinking about how long it will take the driver to arrive. The cab arrives, you board it and leave for your destination. This was the pre-COVID era. The situation has changed now. While the process of booking a cab remains the same, it now comes with a new set of rules. The coronavirus pandemic outbreak has pushed each one of us from normalcy to a “new normal”. Now, when one is boarding a cab, it is for both the driver and the rider to make sure that they have donned their face masks.

Hygiene is prime

As living with COVID-19 becomes the new normal, hygiene and safety are the need of the hour. And this will remain so for an indefinite period of time. The coronavirus outbreak has forced us to socially distance, bringing in norms of contactless service. As the car rental industry caters to a large number of people on a daily basis – cleaning and sanitizing protocols are to be followed meticulously.

Car rental companies are taking measures such as sanitization of vehicles after each ride and offering hand sanitizers to customers to minimize the risk of being infected by the virus. For example, some car rental firms conduct daily sanitization of all of their vehicles, with a special emphasis on high-contact surfaces, both inside and outside of the car, such as seats, steering wheels, and door handles.

Similar measures have been implemented by other car rental companies to ensure the safety and well-being of passengers and drivers. The cab aggregators have distributed hygiene kits and face masks to drivers as well.

What’s the new focus?

As we enter Unlock 2.0 phase and most of the cabs are now allowed to ply on city roads, people will have to remain more vigilant during this unlock period. Needless to say, owing to the risk of infection, using public transport at the moment is out of the question.

In terms of privacy, flexibility, and most importantly, hygiene, private transportation is indeed the better alternative. However, considering the economic slowdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, buying a brand new car isn’t feasible for many. This is where rental cars come into the picture.

In fact, rental cars might even be safer in today’s world with brands ensuring stringent hygiene and safety measures with the help of innovative technology. In urban areas due to hygiene and safety concerns, customers are moving to car rental mobility solutions.

The needle has shifted from owning to renting a car as it makes the experience hassle-free. Moreover, if one rents a car, one has control over its cleanliness. The rider knows that he’s the only one who has been in that car for those 24 or 48 hours, as opposed to getting into a lot of different vehicles through the course of a trip.

Also read: How car rental could be your new safety move against COVID-19

Car subscriptions plans are also suitable for those who like to experiment and prefer variety rather than sticking with one car for long periods of time. However, cars on subscription move from subscriber to subscriber and so one needs to be sure that the car being taken on subscription has been sanitized before being handed over. There is also a new option of taking cars on operating lease from leasing companies. This has the benefit of short duration, and the car remains exclusively with the customer for the duration of the contract.

One of the trends highlighted in this COVID-19 era is that people are looking at having a car that gives them the freedom to travel without breaking social distancing norms. While no one knows exactly what will happen next, the car rental industry is moving forward with caution and driver-rider safety in mind.

Author: Sunil Gupta, MD & CEO, Avis India

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the original author. These views and opinions do not represent those of The Indian Express Group or its employees.