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

by Emma


Rapido has partnered with Zypp Electric to offer EV bike taxi ride service called Rapido EV.

Bike taxi startup Rapido has been able to see approximately 75 per cent recovery for its businesses so far compared to its pre-Covid performance. The company is currently doing 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 fully, according to Rapido Co-founder Aravind Sanka. 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 with respect to 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 the auto and bike-sharing services of Ola and Uber, was backed by Hero MotoCorp Chairman Pawan Munjal and had last raised Rs 390 crore funding led by WestBridge Capital in 2019.

Rapido had launched its auto-sharing service in October 2020 as commuters preferred autos over cabs amid Covid scare. The startup completed more than a million trips in the first three months of the auto service and is now looking to complete 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 digitised the service. However, for bike taxis, we are creating a new market for people who were never travelling 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 per cent (of January 2020 level) in September last year to 54 per cent in January 2021, demand for auto-booking services recovered from 48 per cent to 83 per cent, 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 per cent to 62 per cent during the said period. The overall sector witnessed a recovery from 31 per cent in September to 63 per cent 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, a lot of 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 Zypp 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 per cent of it is electric,” Sanka added. The company will be expanding to other cities and is working with its partners to enable electric vehicles as part of its fleet. Growing at 15 per cent 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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