Secret Sauce Behind Car Sharing #CES2017

Who will run the autonomous mobility services of tomorrow? It may be the entities that are forming car-sharing services today. And, according to Alex Thibaut of Vulog, those entities are a varied bunch, ranging from  automobile clubs, car manufacturers, energy conglomerates,insurance companies and local start-ups. From the mobile app to vehicle access to the backend, Vulog provides the entire system to launch and operate a car-sharing service. Their platform decouples the service from the car brand, allowing the service provider to mix and match vehicles to optimize their service.

Thibaut indicates that, in addition to lowering the cost of mobility, car-sharing provides users convenience. Vehicle use becomes a variable cost, as the driver no longer needs to worry about insurance, car maintenance or even parking, as, ideally, as soon as one driver parks a car, another person will pick it up and drive it somewhere else. An implication is that Vulog needs to be able to track and identify where every car is at all times. He hints that they can drive utilization rates to be several times of an average car, lower operating costs and making it economically attractive.

Of course, there are a number of variables that will impact usage, which includes having enough cars close enough to a given population. He suggests that there needs to be a car within a few hundred feet of where they are within their “home zone”, so it truly is a last-mile solution. He hints that there is a possibility of integrating their RFID access cards with public transit payment systems to augment longer fixed transit routes with convenient last-mile vehicle transportation.

Long-term, the real-world data they are gathering about various parameters, such as utilization, vehicle repositioning, etc,. will be very valuable as their customers evolve their service from driver to driverless taxis.