NITI Aayog
Chief Executive Officer of Uber Dara Khosrowshahi (left) and NITI Ayog Amitabh Kant (right) arrive at a conference on 'sustainable mobility' hosted by the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum in New Delhi on February 22, 2018. Khosrowshahi's suggestion to Indians not to buy cars could become controversial.CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP/Getty Images

Uber boss Dara Khosrowshahi's advice to millennials not to stop buying personal vehicles for personal transport undercuts Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's attempt to encourage more car purchases to revive the slump-bound sector, reports suggest. Khosrowshahi urged the youth of India not to fall into the car ownership trap that has affected innovation and technological upgrade in many developed countries.

Sitharaman had said the millennials' preference of ride hire apps like Uber and Ola instead of car ownership was contributing to the auto sector slump in the country. Maruti Suzuki chairman RC Bhargava and a few other industrialists concurred with her and said the millennials wanted to spend money on electronic gadgets instead of owning vehicles.

The country's auto sector is in the midst of the worst slump in about two decades amid a slowdown in the economy, led by sluggish demand and slowing private investment.

Khosrowshahi wanted Indians to take on these so-called "established industries" by focusing on innovations to make travel convenient, a report on the Livemint website said. He said there was very high car ownership in the developed countries, which was "a trap that can sometimes prevent innovation because you have a central infrastructure that is designed for the last 10 years versus infrastructure that is designed for the next 10-20 years."

Key focus region

"For the newer generation, the dream is not to own a car but the freedom to have any kind of service on demand. I think that established protocols and industries are enemies of innovation and India can be a trailblazer by taking on established industries," Khosrowshahi added.

San Francisco-based Uber considers India as one of its major markets across the globe. Credit: Reuters

He was speaking to reporters during an event to announce Uber's tie-up with Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) to provide last-mile transportation services, the report said. His comments were made in the backdrop of India becoming a key focus region for the ride-hailing platform, especially after losing the battle in China to local rival Didi Chuxing. India is one of Uber's largest markets globally, and Khasrowshahi said his company has committed to continue its investments in the country for the next 5-10 years.

The country's auto sector is in the midst of the worst slump in about two decades amid a slowdown in the economy, led by sluggish demand and slowing private investment. "The opportunity here in India is that India doesn't need to be trapped by this establishment," the report quoted him as saying. "India can actually be an innovator at mass for the developing countries in the world and can be a trailblazer and today we can look back at a day when innovation was accelerated."