However, to up its game and get back into the business, Meru has unveiled three new vehicle categories – hatchback, sedan & SUV as separate services from before. Before the entry of Uber and Ola, Meru operated mostly as a cab-aggregator with steep tariffs, meant mostly for the corporates.
The Genie service was introduced to offer the same service at a lesser price, but the plan did not take off well because the leaders were charging almost half the tariff. The new categories in Meru will solve this problem by offering lower ride tariffs and better comfort.
The hatchback will come with a base fee of Rs 49 and Rs 9/km, the sedan will come with a basic tariff of Rs 79 and Rs 10/km and SUV with a base rate of Rs 149 and Rs 15/km thereafter. In contrast, Ola and Uber both charge Rs. 6/km for their cheapest options(Delhi-NCR), so Meru still isn’t the best priced.
“Meru is the only major player in the taxi service industry not charging travelers ‘surge price’. By revamping our services portfolio, we aim to provide even more affordable travel options for our ever growing customer base,” said Nilesh Sangoi, CEO at Meru Cabs.
Now, as the funds dry up, the two market leaders are also planning to increase the prices of their cab services. After all, Rs. 9/km doesn’t sound too bad, provided the service is better and more reliable. The company has also promised that there will be no surge pricing on its app.
This service will be started in Mumbai first, and will then be scaled to other cities. The company is on track to adding more cabs every month, almost 2,000-3,000. An SUV option was recently added on Uber and has been available on Ola for some time now, but there is a clear dearth of such cabs.
Will this pivot Meru’s business?
The radio-taxi service has been more attractive to multinationals and large corporations that employ Meru cabs on a regular basis for their employees. It has also been quite reliable for corporate professionals who do not end up paying for the cab tariff anyway.
However, for the consumer model, the company has not been able to do much, and it knows the potential of the market. These three categories could definitely help the company make more money but at the cost of low ridership. Given a choice between Uber, Ola vs. Meru, how many would choose Meru anyway?
Uber and Ola has made their name in this industry, and it will be very hard to come up to their level, but Meru cabs can at least try to offer something extra for the price it is charging. The cars should be in better conditions, the availability should be good and the drivers should be more reliable.