Car rental companies offer a wide range of chauffer-driven luxury vehicles such as Audi, Bentley, Mercedes Benz, Lamborghini and even Rolls Royce. This BMW is owned by Avis India

Can’t afford to buy a swanky car? Take one on a rent or hire instead

You can even gift yourself the experience of riding a different set of wheels each time you plan a trip–from a Hummer to a Bentley to a Jaguar to a BMW or Range Rover

Namrata Kohli | New Delhi

Travelling in a luxury car, staying in the presidential suite of an upscale hotel, lounging on a yacht or flying a private jet – these are the kind of aspirations many of us have. Good for those who can afford to buy them and use them regularly, but for others who want to savour the experience once in a while, luckily there are options in the market. At least, you can go for a long drive, outstation or even local travel in a fancy Audi or Lamborghini, whenever you wish to and wherever you want to.

The best part is you can choose a different car every time you travel. It is unlikely that anyone will be able to afford multiple luxury cars at any point of time. By renting or taking on hire, you will be able to enjoy a wide variety of the latest luxury vehicles on a regular basis–from a sporty BMW, to an elegant Mercedes-Benz, to even a Rolls-Royce. Why, you could also test your driving skills on a Range Rover. With leasing, will you be able to drive all of the latest vehicles from the world’s greatest automakers regularly.

You will also be spared of the headache of maintenance. Even basic servicing of a luxury automobile is super expensive and can easily set you back by a lakh of rupees or more a year. Taking a fancy car on hire helps you get away with many hassles that come with owning a luxury car such as registration, maintenance, insurance renewal, parking space and security. It also enables you to pick a car of your choice depending on your purpose or type of trip. Most of these luxury cars have complex, expensive components that cost more to replace or repair.

Says Alok Ahuja, a 45-year-old South Delhi-based entrepreneur: “The fact is that luxury vehicles have comfort and amenities that ordinary cars cannot match, but as desirable and wonderful as those amenities are, you do not need them every day. A luxury vehicle is not exactly the best vehicle for daily driving since it is not the most practical vehicle around. Most have relatively low fuel mileage and are large enough to make manoeuvring into parking spaces a very tricky affair. Once you do manage to wedge it into a parking space, there is the constant concern that it will be scratched by careless people. But when you rent a luxury car, you won’t have to worry about any of those fixed expenses. It’s like having the cake and eating it too.”

Leasing luxury

People desire vehicles depending on the requirements, for general travel or business meets both sedans and SUVs are preferred. Business and executive class guests love to travel in sedans, mostly preferring the Mercedes Benz S-Class, Audi A6 and Mercedes Benz E-Class. In the case of SUVs, Audi Q7 is the top choice.

Some of the key luxury car rental companies include Avis, Orix, Luxorides, Luxury car Rental Delhi, KTC India, EcoRent-a-car, Mann Travels, Luxury Car Hire India, Mumbai-based Kings of Car, Pune-based KTC, and Bengaluru based Gohype. Most of these can be booked online by earmarking the duration of the ride, location and selecting the car and paying online while some are booked by telecalling.

The prices for local transportation depend upon the vehicle chosen and the package opted. Most companies offer vehicles in packages of four hours and 40 km and 8 hours and 80 km. Prices for outstation travel are calculated based on the vehicle opted and kilometres run with a billing of at least 250 kilometres per day.

Photoshoots, videos, movies and weddings are also a big reason for taking luxury cars on hire. Take the case of Luxury Car Rental Delhi, which offers Wedding car rental services in Delhi NCR. The spokesperson says, “The price depends upon date, location, route and timings. We are generally able to give an Audi a4 for 6,000, a Jaguar for Rs 10,000, a Range rover for Rs 10,000, A3 Convertible for Rs 20,000, a Jaguar XJL for Rs 40,000, a Hummer for Rs 1 lakh, a Bentley for Rs 90,000, Mustang Rs 40,000 and Mercedes S class for Rs 8,000 for one-side drop and Rs 12,000 for round trips.”

These rental companies provide a wide range of luxury cars on demand to customers. Take the case of Avis India (a joint venture between Avis Budget Group, Inc. and The Oberoi Group) which has a fleet of more than 8,000 premium cars across the country. Says Sunil Gupta, MD & CEO, Avis India: “We have options to rent a chauffeur-driven Mercedes-Maybach S-Class and BMW 5 series, Rolls Royce, Bentley or any fancy car. The price differs depending on rent or lease duration. It can start from Rs 10,000 for an airport pick-up and drop. At the same time, the cost for lease is based on a duration of 1-5 years.”

Today the typical use cases for renting a luxury car are either a special event or function, business trip or a road trip with your family or friends. Says Rajeev Singh, Partner and Automotive Leader, Deloitte India: “The luxury car market is catching on in India, and we can expect it to grow in double digits in the next few years. There are various factors ranging from consumer behaviour, rising disposable income to tech enablement, which are driving growth in this segment. According to our annual Global Automotive Consumer Survey, in India 61 per cent of the consumers are questioning the need to own a vehicle in the future due to availability of rental options. This percentage is even higher at 64 per cent for Millennials and Gen Z.”

While youngsters are venturing into one-way solo trips, many customers traveling with their families favour a round-trip experience for the coming months. While young consumers prefer a sportier BMW, others opt for the comfort and reliability of a Mercedes. The booking is common in metro cities such as Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru.

Where the market lies

Rich young Indians have been the key drivers of the demand for rented luxury cars. Says Deloitte’s Rajeev Singh: “In India the number of ‘Millionaires Millennials’ has been growing significantly in the past few years and they don’t want to necessarily own the vehicle, which opens a big opportunity for luxury car rental companies in India. Technology adoption and focus on customer experience by luxury car rental companies have made it seamless and extremely simple for the customers to avail their services. Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) have also made it easier for fleet owners to maintain luxury cars in good condition by providing extended warranties and maintenance packages.”

There are frequent demands from NRIs, foreigners and young aspirational adults for their transportation and travel needs. Says Aaditya Mishra, Director, Luxorides: “Our guests mainly book cars for airport transfer, which can be a one-way drop and usually gets covered in the four-hour-40 km package. Others have been demanding vehicles for general travel and business meets. There are also frequent demands of round-trip transportation and travel to outstation places like Nainital, Spiti, Leh and Ladakh, Shimla, Manali, Bimsar, Jaipur, Agra, Amritsar and other places) post relaxations of Covid-19 lockdown. We take proper precautions to prevent the spread of coronavirus by equipping chauffeurs with masks and sanitisers. For outstation travel, our guests with more than five travellers usually opt from Toyota Innova Crysta, Toyota Fortuner, Toyota Hiace commuter, Audi Q7, Mercedes Benz Sprinter, and Mercedes Benz Viano.”

Staying cautious

While the luxury car rental industry is catching on in India, scale is yet to be reached as the industry is still nascent. Demand is still minimal in Tier-II or Tier-III cities.

There is demand for self-drive, especially for sports cars such as Hummer and Mustang, but in the case of other luxury cars, companies (off the record) say that they advise people to go with the chauffeur because of instances of rogue driving on city and highway.

As a customer, check that the car you hire has comprehensive insurance and that 24×7 roadside assistance is provided. Usually, distance and time are calculated from garage to garage. The driver must be 23 years old at least, with two years of driving experience and a valid driver’s license.

Consumers should carefully review the rental agreement and insurance documents, as these vehicles have a high service cost, especially in accidental cases, cautions Deloitte’s Singh. One should look for a vehicle that is not more than 5 years old, has zero-depreciation insurance with all important coverages, and preferably has a service package. Additionally, some minor aspects like existing scratches/damages, fuel type and hidden charges should be looked at while renting to avoid any issues cropping up at the end of the rental period.

Some cars are built primarily for comfort, others are more focused on power and performance, which is why the experiences are different. A customer should be clear about the need and purpose of renting a luxury car and accordingly choose the model.

Table: What it costs to rent a luxury car

Vehicle make and model Local package Wedding car Outstation trips
04 hours, 40 Km 08 hours, 80 km 12 hours,100 km Minimum billing of 250 km

Toyota Camry Hybrid Sedan

Rs 3,000 Rs 5,000 Rs 11,000 Rs 50/km

Audi A3 Cabriolet (Convertible)

Rs 15,000 Rs 25,000 Rs 105/km

Audi A6 / Mercedes E Class / BMW 5 Series / Jaguar XF Sedan

Rs 5,000 Rs 8,000 Rs 25,000 Rs 70/km
Audi A6 Matrix Sedan Rs 6,000 Rs 9,000 Rs 25,000 Rs 70/km
Mercedes Benz S Class / BMW 7 Series Sedan Rs 12,000 Rs 19,500 Rs 51,000 Rs 150/km
Audi Q7 SUV / Mercedes GLS SUV Rs 9,500 Rs 15,500 Rs 31,000 Rs 100/km
Mercedes Benz GLE SUV / Range Rover Evoque Rs 8,000 Rs 12,000 Rs 30,000 Rs 90/km
Toyota Fortuner / Kia Carnival Rs 3,000 Rs 5,000 Rs 15,000 Rs 50/km
Toyota Innova Crysta* Rs 1,600 Rs 2,500 Rs 20/km
Toyota HiAce Commuter* Rs 6,000 Rs 10,000 Rs 80/km
Mercedes Benz Viano/Sprinter* Rs 8,500 Rs 14,500 Rs 125/km
Mercedes V-Class* Rs 9,500 Rs 15,000 Rs 135/km
Ford Mustang Rs 50,000
Mercedes Benz G-Wagen / Bentley Flying Spur / Range Rover Vogue Rs 1,50,000

* Outstation and Tour; # For shoots only; Source: Luxorides

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