Bike taxi startup Rapido bounces back to 75% of pre-Covid levels; taps into EV space with new service

by Joseph K. Clark

Rapido has partnered with Zypp Electric to offer an EV bike taxi ride service called Rapido EV. Bike taxi startup Rapido has seen approximately 75 percent recovery for its businesses so far compared to its pre-Covid performance. According to Rapido Co-founder, the company is making nearly 3 lakh trips per day compared to pre-Covid 4-4.5 lakh trips per day even as cities such as Delhi and Hyderabad have recovered Aravind Sanka fully. The recovery has been for its bike and auto booking services combined. “Majority recovery is for bikes segment while it is still very early days for auto business…suddenly people who were never using ride-sharing, started using it during Covid. One of the challenges for public transport users is the price point, and because bikes and auto are nearest at least to the public transport concerning the price point and availability, they have recovered the most. Out of that, bike taxi is the first and is the most recovered then comes autos and cabs,” Sanka told Financial Express Online in an interaction. The startup, which competes with Ola and Uber’s auto and bike-sharing services, was backed by Hero MotoCorp Chairman Pawan Munjal and had last raised Rs 390 crore funding led by WestBridge Capital in 2019.

startup Rapido

Rapido had launched its auto-sharing service in October 2020 as commuters preferred autos over cabs amid the Covid scare. The startup completed more than a million trips in the first three months of the auto service and is now looking to meet a monthly million trip by next month. “Bike segment is 10 times bigger than the auto though it is growing crazily at a higher speed. We don’t need to create a culture for the auto rides because India already has that culture, and we just digitized the service. However, for bike taxis, we are creating a new market for people who were never traveling on a two-wheeler with strangers,” added Sanka.

In contrast, the cab-hailing services or online cab booking market, led by Ola and Uber, had continued to witness the lowest post-Covid recovery rate. While the cab booking segment managed to recover from around 21 percent (of January 2020 level) in September last year to 54 percent in January 2021, demand for auto-booking services recovered from 48 percent to 83 percent, according to the data from the management consulting firm RedSeer. On the other hand, the bike-sharing vertical in the e-mobility sector also witnessed a healthy recovery from 40 percent to 62 percent during the said period. The overall industry has seen a rally from 31 percent in September to 63 percent of the pre-Covid level in January 2021.

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“Unlike cars, bikes are open, and from the Covid perspective, indoor is more risky than outdoor. Also, bikes are meant for a shorter duration. So, the chances of contraction are lesser than in cabs. In terms of cabs, many customers may have gone back to their hometown and may not return until offices resume. This would impact the recovery of four-wheeler booking,” said Yugal Joshi, Vice President at Texas-based consultancy Everest Group had told Financial Express Online.

Rapido on Wednesday had also announced a partnership with Zipp Electric to offer an EV bike taxi ride service called Rapido EV. The company will be onboarding over 100 riders and electric two-wheelers from Zypp as part of its Captain fleet and will run the service as a pilot in Delhi-NCR for three months from the current month onwards. “While India is the largest two-wheeler market, only 1 percent of it is electric,” Sanka added. The company will expand to other cities and work with its partners to enable electric vehicles as part of its fleet. Growing at 15 percent month-on-month, Sanka wants to grow “more than 20 times in the next two years. It is an aggressive target, but I see that someone has to do it in India.”

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