Millennials and younger generations tend to be reluctant to buy items. Instead, they prefer to have access to products via different sharing models. “25 years from now, car sharing will be the norm, and car ownership an anomaly,” says author and economist Jeremy Rifkin in the latest Goldman Sachs Global Investment Research.
What we experience in Atom Mobility - a platform that can be adjusted to any sharing model and type of vehicle - is that people of any age are willing to share vehicles they own. From cars to e-scooters and even forklifts. Moreover, people are willing to start their own businesses based on sharing.
This will be a practical guide for those who are seriously considering starting a sharing business. As this business niche isn’t new, a lot of people have suffered bumps during the launch process and have learned their lessons. Atom Mobility has collected them and created a practical guide highlighting what you should consider when you are considering entering the vehicle sharing business.
🛴 Choose the vehicle type and operation model
This seems like a simple decision, but it’s not. Currently, the most popular vehicles for sharing are bikes and e-bikes, scooters, e-mopeds and cars. If you already own a fleet, then the offering will be obvious. If not, you’ll have to start by calculating which vehicle type you can afford. Here is some meaningful insight into the difference between launching a vehicle sharing business with scooters, e-bikes, and mopeds. By the way, the brand is not important. The most important parameter that can later reduce maintenance costs is the quality of the IoT system fitted into the vehicle and, of course, the quality of the vehicle itself.
You will need a minimum of 50-100 vehicles to start your business. Accordingly, you can calculate the amount of the initial investment you require. Obviously, car sharing requires way more money than creating a bike fleet of 100 vehicles. However, leasing is also an option. In addition, you have to do the market research, because your success depends on demand - if there are already two or three companies in town offering e-scooters, you will have to invest a lot of money on marketing to persuade people to use your services instead those of your competitors. So you should probably consider choosing another type of vehicle to establish a point of difference and thus secure competitive advantage.
When you start to do your calculations, start with the vehicle price. From one perspective, this is the easiest part, but it is very important to calculate:
● How many rides should be taken with one vehicle during the day for it to be profitable? For example, take a look at this Shared Mobility Report from France. It might help you to get an impression of the demand and fragmentation of the market.
● What is the value of one ride? Bear in mind that the price per ride in a car is approximately three times higher than on a bike, but so are the expenditures.
● What is the structure of your costs? You have to insure every vehicle. Taxes have to be paid and vehicles have got to be inspected from time to time. Are all these positions included in your cost estimate? By the way, this is a great resource with an Excel table showing how market leaders estimate their income and expenses.
The next decision to make regards the sharing model. Currently, there are several on the market that have demonstrated proven value:
● Charging stations - there are charging stations all over the city. When the ride ends, the vehicle is left at a charging station and it is charged in readiness for the next time it is going to be used. Although this approach can create significant additional costs, it lowers everyday servicing costs.
● Free-floating vehicles - shared vehicles can be left wherever it is convenient for the customer. The city council may not be happy with it as this model sometimes clutters up the streets. So you should definitely check out whether there are any existing regulations in this regard before you launch this model.
● B2B or corporate vehicle sharing - the company owns the fleet that can be used by their employees. This is quite a secure way to run your business, but you will need to sell it to other SMEs which is not an easy task and requires significant sales resources and expertise.
● P2P sharing - anyone can register a vehicle on the platform, which can be rented by any other user. This may seem easy, but it is actually quite complicated, because the owner is putting his property on the platform which he wants to get back in the same condition as it was before. As a sharing service provider, how can you guarantee that the vehicle won’t be broken? You should run background check on users, as well as have insurance in case anything happens.
You can also read more about different operational models here.
🏢 Check the city regulations
In recent years both the demand and offering for ridesharing have grown to such an extent that cities have been forced to regulate this business sector. If you are planning to operate within city limits, you’ll definitely have to check out the relevant legislation.
Regulations may be in place that have been set by the City Council. So the first thing to find out is - is vehicle sharing allowed at all? In cities with high vehicle ridesharing service and density, the city council might organize tenders to identify which companies can provide the most appropriate ridesharing service. Other requirements for companies might also apply, so you should monitor this situation carefully.
As far as density is concerned, there’s no point in creating a new ridesharing business if the vehicle density is already more than 700 shared vehicles per 100,000 people. If the ratio is one shared vehicle per 100 - 140 people, very careful calculations should be done as it could signal that the market is overcrowded so demand might be low.
💰 Consider all costs
Every business plan starts with an Excel sheet. As always, it is not possible to predict all costs but you can sneak peek into existing companies and take a look at their cost structure. You should take the following items into account:
● Maintenance costs - every vehicle now and then will have to be repaired.
● Vehicle purchase and depreciation costs - you need to know after how many kilometres you are going to have to replace your existing vehicle with a new one.
● Charging costs – you will need a team to take care of vehicle charging. Of course, costs will differ depending on the ridesharing model, but there are going to be charging costs in some shape or form.
● Bank commissions and payment transaction costs - even if you haven’t used credit to buy vehicles, your bank will still charge you commission for its services. If you use Stripe, Adyen, or a similar payment operator, you should take into account additional costs for every transaction.
● Marketing - it is vital to go loud upon launch so that everyone notices the new company in town. This requires a sizable marketing budget. If you decide to use promo codes, free rides, and other bonuses to attract new customers, this will reduce your profit margin on a certain amount of rides.
● Customer support - customers always have questions, which they will ask via Messenger, phone or any other platform. You have to have a team in place that can provide answers right away.
● IT system support - it is crucial that the service is up and running all the time. And there are a lot of different parts involved starting from software to IoT systems and data.
● Additional costs - always leave space for unplanned costs. The industry average is approximately 3 - 5% per ride.
At this point, you are ready to start to talk to manufacturers, haggle about prices, and ask them to send you a vehicle for a test. You should not forget to discuss the prices and delivery policy of spare parts, in order to avoid unplanned downtime.
🤑 Financing options
If you already own a company and see ridesharing as an additional direction in the development of your business, then most likely you will be ready to invest in its launch. If not, and you are planning to start a new company, the first thing to consider is how can you launch a test? The idea of a vehicle sharing business alone will not be enough to attract investors or convince banks to give you a loan. You will always have to prove that this business can really take you somewhere in this particular place. And a successful test with a small number of vehicles could be good proof.
You could consider crowdfunding as an option if you want to get some seed capital. Consider choosing the most popular platforms like Spark Crowdfunding, Seedrs, Fuderbeam, or Crowdcube. They are so interested in your success that they will also put their effort into marketing your campaign on their channels. This is your opportunity to make some savings on your marketing expenditures, which will definitely benefit you later on.
🛵 Plan fleet management
So far so good. You have a plan and a budget, so what’s next? Now you have to put your fleet management system on paper:
● Maintenance and charging - at the end of each day you are going to have to check the condition of every vehicle. Does it need to be charged? Is everything working smoothly or do some details need to be changed? This everyday care usually “eats” 30 - 40% of overall costs.
● Spare parts - you should be ready to spend about 10% of the total value of the vehicle on spare parts. In addition, you should have a proper warehouse. Losing 30% of the fleet for three months due to a spare parts’ shortage is a nightmare for any business.
● People on the streets - your company will require two employees per 100 vehicles to inspect and collect them. So estimate their salaries. Remember that these people won’t have regular working hours. They might charge you overtime for work at night. And another thing to consider is how they are going to get about the city. If the vehicle is broken, how are they going to be able to take it to be serviced?
● Customer support - no matter how mature the market is - your customers will always have questions. Who’s going to answer them? Remember that customer reviews create a rating that builds the further success of the company.
As the ridesharing business is becoming more popular, you should probably consider outsourcing the vehicle service. There are new companies on the market that focus on servicing vehicle sharing platforms.
📈 Build your marketing strategy
Marketing starts with the brand. You have to decide whether you’re going to hire a marketing agency or work with the designers and marketers yourself. Either way, you will need a brand name, logo, web page, and corporate colours.
Our experience shows that the success of the launch event is a bridge to the future success of the vehicle sharing company. So it is really worth focusing your attention on the big bang at the beginning. It is crucial to get as many downloads during the first days of the operation as possible. Even if not everyone uses your service straight away, you will have a database of potential customers with whom you can work, for example, by sending push notifications - consider using Intercom or Mailchimp for this.
Oftentimes collaboration with influencers is a good channel to use. And local media are interested in vehicle sharing businesses entering the city. But never forget social media - it is the most appropriate channel for marketing, as well as quick responses to customer requests.
Now sit back, relax and enjoy your amazing results… 😆 No, the vehicle sharing business doesn’t work that way. During the first month you will have to put a lot of your effort and the effort of the whole team into adapting your initial plan to real life. The first season is usually full of experiments and failures, but the most rewarding part of this business is the opportunity to scale.
👍 ATOM Mobility is here to help you with all the challenges you will face. ATOM Mobility provides reliable and proven white label technology helping entrepreneurs to focus on marketing and operations. Now serving customers in over 15 countries worldwide. Check what our customers are saying: Story of Ride, Story of Qick, Story of GOON
Click below to learn more or request a demo.
For shared mobility operators, fleet insurance should be one of the top priorities. No matter the size or composition of your fleet, having the right insurance can offer peace of mind by protecting your business from unforeseen situations
However, the insurance question can sometimes seem daunting – especially if you're new to the industry. In this article, we will explore the key things you need to know about insuring your shared micromobility fleet.
Why you need insurance
Operating a shared mobility fleet isn’t always smooth sailing. Accidents can happen – whether it's a minor fender-bender or something more severe. Insurance serves as your safety net, offering financial coverage for repairs, replacements, and even potential legal obligations after an incident.
Here are the main reasons why insurance should be one of the top priorities for shared mobility fleet operators:
Legal compliance: In many places, insurance for shared mobility fleets is a legal requirement. You probably want to comply with these regulations to avoid any potential fines, penalties – or even the suspension of your operations.
Financial security: Insurance also helps keep your business going financially, no matter what happens. Without insurance, accidents, vehicle damage, or theft can seriously impact your finances. Comprehensive insurance coverage can ensure that you're not left scrambling to cover any unexpected expenses.
Understanding shared micromobility insurance
When it comes to insuring micromobility fleets, part of the challenge stems from the fact that the market is relatively new. Some insurance underwriters avoid dealing directly with micromobility because it's seen as an unfamiliar market.
This is where brokers like Cachet and others specializing in micromobility insurance come in. They partner with various insurance underwriters to provide coverage for operators in this field.
When it comes to shared micromobility, insurance coverage generally has a twofold role: safeguarding assets and handling third-party engagement in the event of accidents.
Liability coverage: Securing third-party public liability insurance for shared mobility fleets is not just a matter of choice – in some places, it's mandated by law. This insurance serves to protect pedestrians and riders in the unfortunate event of accidents, providing financial coverage for injuries and damages that may arise. In other words, it's a safety net that offers peace of mind to operators.
When it comes to mandatory third-party liability insurance, the negotiations with the insurance company usually begin by figuring out what the local authorities require to give them a permit. After that, the insurance policy is adjusted to meet the specific demands outlined by these authorities.
Physical damage coverage: This covers the repair or replacement costs of vehicles if they are damaged due to accidents, collisions, vandalism, or theft. Depending on the policy, physical damage coverage may also extend to equipment like GPS devices, charging stations, and other hardware.
What decides your insurance premium payments?
The amount you'll pay in premiums depends on various factors that are specific to your business This includes your fleet's makeup, where and how you operate, and the level of coverage you're aiming for.
Fleet usage: The more a shared micromobility fleet is used, the more chances there are for things to go wrong. When a fleet is in high demand and used often, there's a greater likelihood that something might happen that requires insurance coverage.
Rider behavior: Insurance companies also consider the fleet's ability to predict and manage undesirable rider behavior. Reckless riding, improper parking, or violating traffic rules can significantly increase the risk of accidents and incidents. Operators that have better measures in place to anticipate and mitigate such behaviors can demonstrate a lower risk profile to insurance providers.
Value of the fleet: How much your vehicles are worth individually and as a fleet will affect how much you pay for insurance. If your vehicles are expensive, your insurance premiums will be higher because it would cost more to replace them if they get damaged or lost.
Size of the fleet: Operators can often negotiate more favorable insurance rates for proportionally larger fleets. As the number of vehicles increases, the overall expected risk is distributed and “diluted” as a result – which translates to lower premiums per vehicle.
However, some brokers like Cachet have embraced a broader approach, ensuring that smaller and medium-sized fleets can also benefit from insurance coverage.
Technology implementation: Shared mobility services that employ technologies like GPS tracking, telematics, and IoT devices can provide insurers with valuable data. This data can then help assess driver behavior and usage patterns, enabling insurers to offer more accurate and tailored premium rates. This also takes into account how simple it is for scooters to be stolen and how well the recovery processes function – which can also play a role in insurance expenses.
Where you operate: The location in which your fleet operates is another important factor. From the insurer’s perspective, different areas pose varied levels of risk. For example, urban mobility – which is associated with a higher risk of accidents – may incur higher premiums compared to vehicles used in rural areas.
Level of coverage: The level of coverage you choose directly affects how much you pay in premiums. Opting for higher coverage limits means you get more comprehensive protection, but obviously, it also means your insurance costs go up.
Choosing the ideal insurance for your fleet
Every shared mobility fleet and business is different, so your insurance needs will depend on things like the type and size of your fleet, where you operate, how much risk you're comfortable with, and of course – how much you are willing to pay.
For example, do you require coverage for specific risks, like vandalism, or perhaps your fleet is composed of premium vehicles that are more expensive? To make it more relatable, let's dive into a practical case of a shared micromobility operator's experience with insurance.
How Hoog found the right insurance with Cachet
The concept behind Hoog Mobility is to revolutionize transportation in smaller Estonian towns. They recognized the need for efficient and eco-friendly local travel and brought a shared mobility solution often seen in big cities but missing in smaller communities: electric scooters.
Cash-strapped mobility startups often worry about potential damage or vandalism happening to their shared vehicles. This concern is shared by traditional insurance companies too. As a result, these insurers might hesitate to provide coverage for shared scooters, and if they do – it's usually at a higher cost.
Faced with this challenge, Hoog initially operated without insurance due to the steep expenses. But that changed when Cachet provided them with a customized insurance solution that perfectly suited the company's needs. Hoog also realized that the initial worry about vandalism wasn't as much of an issue as they thought. But still – having insurance for their fleet turned out to be a sound financial decision that gave them peace of mind.
Don't underestimate insurance – it's just as crucial as having a top-notch fleet and solid software. Insurance is best approached proactively – discovering you've cut corners after an unforeseen event will cost you significantly more.
Getting insurance for shared micromobility might be a bit trickier since it's still a new concept, but we've seen that even smaller fleets can make it work – it's just a matter of finding a suitable partner who understands your needs.
At the end of the day, insurance isn't merely about meeting legal requirements – it showcases your dedication to safety, responsible operations, and the well-being of everyone involved in your mobility business.
Shared mobility is gaining momentum – offering prospects for reducing traffic, cleaning up city air, and providing users with more flexible transportation options. However, despite its potential, shared mobility often seems to take a backseat to traditional public transportation and private vehicles in the eyes of local authorities and infrastructure planners.
Experts see shared mobility as a game-changing revolution in transportation. It surpasses the earlier revolution of the 20th century when personal cars became widely affordable and accessible. Now, with the rise of shared mobility and environmental concerns, the old notion of "one car per person" is becoming outdated.
In light of this, authorities worldwide should proactively prepare for a future where shared mobility plays an increasingly significant role. In this blog post, we'll explore different ways authorities and legislators can encourage shared mobility – and why it's totally worth it.
The positive impact of shared mobility
Shared mobility has the potential to fix some of the problems we face with transportation today, benefiting users, cities, and the environment. Here are the key benefits of shared mobility:
- Reduced congestion: Shared mobility can alleviate traffic congestion, leading to smoother traffic flow and shorter commute times.
- Environmental sustainability: Shared mobility can reduce the number of vehicles on the road, resulting in lower greenhouse gas emissions and a smaller carbon footprint. This helps combat air pollution and mitigate the environmental impact of transportation.
- Improved transport accessibility and flexibility: Shared mobility services make transportation more accessible, especially for those without private vehicles or limited mobility options. They also offer convenient alternatives to traditional transportation methods.
Considering the urgent need to combat climate change, shared mobility holds a significant promise as a greener transportation option. The European Union's Green Deal aims to achieve a 90% reduction in transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Shared mobility – coupled with increased adoption of electric vehicles and a broader shift in transportation behaviors – will likely play an important role in achieving this goal.
However, for shared mobility to truly flourish and revolutionize transportation, it needs a supportive environment backed by legislative frameworks and infrastructure planning. So, let's take a closer look at how authorities can foster wider adoption of shared mobility.
1. Favorable regulations with an eye on the future
In the past, shared mobility solutions and business models have faced challenges in gaining acceptance from regulators. A prime example is the initial response of local authorities to Uber’s novel services at the time – ordering them to cease their operations immediately.
Shared mobility services can disrupt traditional transportation models – which may not be welcomed by everyone. However, the undeniable popularity of these services, exemplified by the rapid success of Uber, demonstrates the high customer demand.
Instead of battling against it, authorities might want to shift their focus to creating a supportive legislative framework, recognizing the significant benefits shared mobility can bring. It means regulations that prioritize safety, fair competition, consumer protection, and quality standards – creating an environment where shared mobility can thrive and provide reliable services to customers.
Shared mobility is constantly evolving, which means that regulations need to be flexible and adaptable to keep up with emerging technologies and new challenges. For example, as autonomous vehicles become a possibility, authorities will need to establish guidelines for their safe integration into existing transportation networks.
2. A collaborative approach
Collaboration between local authorities and businesses can be a decisive factor in creating a favorable environment for shared mobility. By working together, they can tackle common challenges, share data, and develop integrated transportation solutions.
Public-private partnerships can also involve incentives like tax breaks or subsidies to encourage the adoption of shared mobility. For example, offering tax breaks to companies that implement ride-sharing programs for their employees can encourage the use of shared transportation options instead of individual cars. Similarly, providing subsidies for shared mobility providers can help offset the initial costs of implementing and expanding their services.
Sharing data between shared mobility platforms and transport authorities is another way to benefit from this cooperation. The platforms have valuable information on accidents, trip patterns, and driver availability. Sharing this data with local authorities can help improve the transportation network, enhance travel apps, and identify underserved areas.
3. Building infrastructure to support the future of transportation
To meet evolving transportation needs, authorities should invest in infrastructure that supports innovative modes of transportation like electric vehicles and shared mobility services. By considering the needs of shared mobility users, infrastructure planners can make it a much more attractive transportation option.
Here are the key infrastructure needs for shared mobility:
Integration with existing infrastructure: To offer users smooth and effective transportation choices, shared mobility must seamlessly integrate with current transport systems like public transit. It should enable users to plan multi-modal journeys and switch between different modes of transport without hassle. For example, users should be able to seamlessly transition from a shared bike or scooter to a bus or train.
Charging stations: Keeping shared electric vehicles performing at their best relies on maintaining their charge. This requires establishing a network of strategically positioned charging stations throughout urban areas. If we're aiming for more people to use electric vehicles, we need to make charging them easy and accessible.
Dedicated parking: Shared mobility services need designated parking areas for their vehicles, such as bike racks and car-sharing parking spots. Well-organized parking infrastructure can reduce street clutter and make it easier for others to grab a shared mobility vehicle.
Information infrastructure support: Running shared mobility services smoothly, including handling bookings, payments, and logistics, depends greatly on a reliable information infrastructure foundation. With the advent of advanced networks like 6G, users will increasingly rely on this infrastructure to stay connected and make the most of these services.
The shared mobility landscape in France
Paris's recent ban on free-floating e-scooters has put France in the spotlight. To take a closer look at the shared mobility environment in France, we turned to Manon Lavergne, CEO of Viluso, a shared micromobility operator. We asked for her insights on the state of micromobility in the country.
Since the Mobility Orientation Law in 2019, the French government has been working to make shared transport easier to access everywhere. At COP 26 in 2021, France undertook to cut its CO2 emissions by 55%.
According to Manon, personal vehicle ownership in urban settings is losing favor among many French citizens, and Paris stands out as a shared micromobility epicenter. The city pioneered self-service shared mobility networks like Vélib' (2007), Autolib' (2011), and Cityscoot's shared electric scooters (2016).
However, in April 2023, Paris residents voted to ban free-floating e-scooters in the city. The reasons behind this decision included riders competing for space with pedestrians on sidewalks and complaints about e-scooters cluttering the pavements when parked.
Captur's case study on e-scooter parking habits in Paris revealed that the majority of users encountered no problems when parking scooters in designated bays. However, outside of the designated areas, users had to compete with other vehicles, resulting in poorer parking choices.
This example again emphasizes the need for proper infrastructure to support shared mobility. Lots of cities around the world were mainly designed with private cars in mind – which can create challenges for accommodating shared mobility solutions.
Anne Hidalgo, Paris' Mayor, campaigned with a strong green agenda and has introduced various changes to tackle pollution and traffic jams. Her vision includes a "15-minute city" where people can access work, shopping, healthcare, education, and leisure within a 15-minute walk or bike ride from their homes.
Yet, the chaotic state of free-floating e-scooters in Paris resulted in their ban. This scenario raises a question for other global cities: How can shared mobility be encouraged without disrupting other transportation choices and pedestrian movement?
According to Manon, the upcoming 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, which will draw many visitors, will provide valuable insight into the city's transportation system – including the viability of shared mobility.
Shared mobility is here to stay – so start planning today
By adopting a supportive approach, authorities worldwide can play a crucial role in enabling the full potential of shared mobility. While it may require a shift in mindset, the potential gains of reduced congestion, environmental sustainability, and improved transportation options make it a worthwhile consideration.
We know that shared mobility is here to stay and will only expand in the coming years. By taking a more proactive stance, authorities will be in a better position to integrate and maximize the full benefits of shared mobility.