Rent a luxe ride
You don’t have to be a millionaire to drive like one. You can live out your driving fantasies with high-end self-drive rental cars. Available are luxury vehicles that start from brands like Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi, whose least expensive models cost somewhere around Rs 30 lakh, and go up to the Rs 4-crore-plus Rolls-Royce Phantoms. If GT coupes and supercars are what you crave for, then you can get models like the Ford Mustang or the Lamborghini too. There’s a price to pay, of course, but not one that will break your bank. And all you need are a valid driving licence that’s a few years old and an identity proof.
Till a few years ago, it was tough getting hold of self-drive rentals, what with the high deposits demanded by the rental companies, which were few and far between anyway. Then, things got better with insurance rule changes that crashed the deposit amounts substantially and a number of new companies came up offering self-drive cars for rent; existing companies too bumped up their operations. But premium and luxury cars were still not available easily. While there were the big, luxurious vehicles that came with chauffeurs, rarely would a company risk having them driven by those who hired them. However, that, too, is changing now.
A few years ago, Raghav Belavadi, founder and CEO, Hype, an online premium car rental service, sold his tech start-up to insurance giant Axa, and moved back to Bangalore. For many years before that he had been living in Switzerland and, on his trips home had to go through a lot of trouble to rent luxury cars like Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, the kind of rides he was used to.
“On the occasion of my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary, celebration plans in Bangalore specifically included a Mercedes-Benz S-Class. But the rental company sent a BMW 7 Series instead. And while they were in the same segment, I wanted a specific car,” he says. “Operators would say something and you would get something else,” he adds. So he decided to do something about it as he was sure that there were others like him who faced similar problems.