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Bringing Big Data to Sustainable Mobility

 The car-sharing market is rapidly growing in emerging markets and will continue to as consumer awareness increases. While uptake in India has been slow, a number of unique digital technology companies are creating data solutions to enable transport sharing.

In 2012 the largest car-sharing company had a fleet of only 60 cars; now in 2014 eHI, the largest car-sharing company in the developing world from China, has a fleet of over 10,000 cars. Among the emerging markets India has been the slowest to add car-sharing services, Brazil (2009), China, (2009), Turkey (2011), Mexico (2012), and India (2013).  

There are three varieties of car-sharing models prevalent throughout the world: self-drive car rental Peer- to- Peer car-sharing, chauffeur driven car rental. Of those, in India there are 6 key players: carEgiri, Uber, Zoom, MiCar, Rdingo, VolksFan.

Developers and entrepreneurs have been scrambling to figure out the right formula to blossom car-sharing in India. Many entrepreneurs believe the answer needs the right blend between providing easy, seamless transactions and safety. 
Siddharth Jagtiani the founder of mCruiseon and carEgiri, a cloud based car-pooling application that works directly with corporates, believes that the key to safety is using a corporate email to ensure identity. He states “using a corporate email to register helps people feel safe in using the service”.  This might prove to be an innovative filter against fraud and be a counterbalance to the anonymity of most transactions on the internet – both of which create insecurity when the online world enables offline human interactions.
Taking advantage of India’s high number of Software Technology Parks, car share apps are using corporate emails to certify safety and increase ridership. For example, the initial target locations in building a user base for carEgiri, Ridingo, and Folksvagn was Eon IT Park in Pune; Infosys Electronic City in Bangalore and software industrial parts in Noida respectively. 
“We basically look at companies were there is more than 100,000 people in the area and were the infrastructure is bad enough to cause heavy traffic,” says Jagtiani “For example Pune just has two lanes to get to the park. Thesame thing happens in Bangalore’s junction where there is only one lane and this becomes a bottleneck for cars.” The urban concentration of IT workers in India has created an opportunity for car-pooling applications in India to target problem areas instead of creating a broad system for the entire population. 
In the field of self-drive car rentals, Zoom leads the way with 100 cars in their fleet, making them the 2nd largest car sharing company in the developing world. Zoom currently only operates in Bangalore and allows its users to rent out cars from a pool to use for daily activities. Unlike carpooling services that satisfy the need for daily trips occurring at the same time, self-drive car rentals are directed towards the market for one time trips occurring at sporadic times. The second largest in the market is MiCar with 50 cars in their fleet operations operating out of the Delhi area. 
Finally the largest and most trending car sharing service globally is the chauffeur driven car rental led by Uber. Uber arrived in India August 2013 and has spread rapidly, expanding into 10 cities, making it the second largest market behind The United States. Chauffeur driven car rentals aim to target the market of random trips done with little planning. Uber has felt resistance both from lawmakers and taxi unions on the basses of laws determining what constitute a taxi driver.
Just recently Uber was hit with their latest setback in India. On August 22, 2014 The Reserve Bank of India issued a notification stating that customers cannot pay with their credit cards without a two-step authentication process. Before customers simply had to enter their credit card details when signing up with Uber, every ride was automatically charged to the card without any further verification. The RBI has given all businesses using app-based purchases till 31 of October to comply with the regulation or stop operations. 
Uber will now either have to use cash or a “mobile wallet” method to conduct payment. Likewise, car-pooling services like Folksvagn and Ridingo use a “mobile wallet”, requiring users to first place a certain amount into a prepaid account in order to share rides.
 CarEgiri on the other hand uses a point system to exchange rides. This allows for easy transactions and abides by Indian law. 
Although India has been slow in picking up the car sharing market there has been tremendously growth in the past two years alone. If start-ups can strike the right balance and awareness that fit travel patterns of India then car sharing has the potential to reduce traffic. 
Image Credits: Saad Faruque

Author: Sustainability Outlook