The world is in a race to get ahead, to break all barriers and live life at a breakneck speed. This is the sign of times that we live in and perhaps, this is the original history of mankind. This history of competition and access to speed is about to undergo a historical transformation in India. The Mahindra Group will soon launch a car-sharing service similar to Ola and Uber in India. According to Mr. Anand Mahindra, “This reality has hit home”. According to Mr. Mahindra, his own daughters prefer using a shared cab service as opposed to owning a car because it is more convenient and practical. So, is this a revolution in the making for the Indian Transport sector?
If there was a country in need of a revolution in this sector, India would definitely be the top contender for the title! Indian population is still growing rapidly and the Indian government has responded with insipid measures to tackle the urgent infrastructural reforms. Similarly, mega-projects like the proposed bullet train between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, still in its inception, raises various concerns about costs and pricing. The government on a positive note has stood by the project firmly; however, it will be difficult to overshadow basic public concerns. On the other hand, India also has the potential to witness an explosion of opportunities created by the private transport sector.
Indian government and private sectors both have responded positively to embrace electric vehicles for the future. The government has announced plans to purchase electric buses to reduce pollution and reduce operating as well as maintenance costs in the long run. Similarly, the Mahindra Group plans to launch electric vehicles in the cab-sharing segment. All these changes essentially have turned transport into a service as opposed to a product. The concerns about prevailing climate change could force the hand of policymakers and automakers to make this shift permanent. This has deep economic implications for the industry as well as for the policymakers.
The future of transport in India could also see a tryst with the autonomous driving vehicles in the upcoming future. Mr. Gadkari, the Union Transport minister has refused to allow autonomous driving vehicles in India. His concern was solely related to job creation. If driverless cars are allowed in India, it could cost the Indian economy millions of valuable jobs. Could these not be opportunities as well? Autonomously driven cars as envisioned by companies like Google come with an entire ecosystem. These vehicles in future would be able to communicate with electronics like the refrigerator and see your smartphone shopping list to suggest and entice shoppers. Similarly, these cars would also come with an ecosystem of entertainment to sell various apps, movies to the clients sitting inside at the mercy of Google run software. Maybe, just maybe there is more than a glimmer of hope lingering far away in the future.