Is work-from-home changing our driving habits?
Mita Srinivasan
10x Industry

Is work-from-home changing our driving habits?

The global corporate car sharing market is projected to surge at a CAGR of 15.6 percent from 2021 to 2028. Is working from home, the vagaries in fuel costs, the rise in costs of owning and managing a car changing the way we drive or manage our transportation. We (as SME10X) took a look at the options out there and how the whole rental car sector is changing and what SME business owners need to consider

Driving in the millennial age is being driven by the new hybrid work that we have become accustomed to. I am not a millennial but have their mindset (at least I like to think so) and, now that I am car-less, I have been exploring the recent upsurge of “pay per minute” options instead of the conventional car rentals that need you to jump through hoops, deposit funds in advance and, traditionally, have been the mainstay of the larger businesses within the SME sector for their fleet management.

In a piece that Nicholas Watson, Co-founder & CEO at Udrive shared with SME10x earlier this year, “the motivation to own a car has started to give way to creative leasing models, fractional ownership, and other forms of on-demand transportation”. The global corporate car sharing market is projected to surge at a CAGR of 15.6 percent from 2021 to 2028.

So, it was the first to get my attention.

Udrive, launched in 2016, promises to make it easy to set up and they were not wrong. They have options to get a car by the minute – so if you need quick hops you can opt for these on the fly though if the distance would take less than 30 mins, you might be better off taking a cab. Availability on the fly, the booking and charges are counted only when you start using the car, payment is deducted at the end of journey. Fuel and Dubai RTA parking (across most parking zones) is included which makes it quite friendly in terms of maintenance. You do have options for daily but you need to lookout for the tag that shows which ones are daily because most of the Udrive are per minute even though they show daily, you don’t have the option to choose on the app.

For me personally, it was a bit fiddly when on the ground, including not finding enough cars around me and not being able to trace the car through the map (especially in the summer heat). Which can be a bit discouraging.

You can’t add a second driver (you can with ekar or normal rentals) but Udrive do have corporate options where the service uses the corporate email to detect the domain name and employees are offered credits and options. There are options for credit pack purchases for distribution through HR as well and includes vehicle delivery to corporate office for use (available only on daily rentals).

ekar, launched a year after Udrive, is similar. For me, the advantage was having the option to add a second driver. For someone like me, there were more daily options in my area which ended up being more cost-effective for me because I tend to club meetings together and get the most out of a daily rental. Daily rentals are long-term and do not come with fuel while there is limited parking inclusion only in some zones.

Here too, the app does show daily and minute options for the car but you can’t choose which option you’d like.

Like Udrive, in addition to carshare and subscription leasing options for individuals, ekar also offers 'ekar for business' to mobilize employees providing companies the options of staff packages. Staff can choose to pay per minute, hour, daily, weekly, or monthly depending on their needs. ekar Mobility OS can optimize existing staff cars, claiming to reduce total car need by 35 percent, including overall costs, and carbon footprint.

Both Udrive and ekar are not only available throughout most of UAE but also recently expanded into Saudi Arabia.

While on this ability to use the app to book a car, it was an opportunity to explore one of my go-to apps for transportation, Careem, and try out their new Swapp option. Swapp (I realized too late) is an aggregator. While the set up and registration was easy through the Careem app, the approval took a bit of time as did the booking. There is a “two hour” “stretchable” window if you opt for delivery of the vehicle because they rely on another third party to deliver on this promise. I was expecting the same level of service (and I have to say the Careem support was outstanding in this – Swapp not so much). It was stressful and I for one – no matter how attractively low their offer is – will not go back again.

Similarly, Selfdrive is an aggregator and the experience with Swapp has put me off aggregators like them. And judging by a couple of anecdotal experiences, there are slips between bookings with Selfdrive and delivery by third party rental companies.

There are other options but for my money, so far, ekar has my custom.

Editor’s note: None of the bookings were sponsored and the author spent her own money in the course of the bookings.