30 January, 2019

ZipCar ceases operations in three cities as competition increases

Car sharing service ZipCar has announced it is closing operations in three cities as Audi launches its premium service in Spain.

ZipCar is citing fierce competition from other providers and company cars as the reason it is closing its services in Brussels, Paris and Barcelona at the end of February. Its parent company Avis has decided to focus operations on the UK, specifically London, and the North American market.

Despite usage growth of 75% in Brussels during 2018, overall numbers appear to have been insufficient in making the business profitable. These concerns have also been shared with other service providers, as competition from larger businesses such as Uber, Waymo and Lyft increases.

Manufacturer services are also playing a part in the demise of the independent sharing service. BMW and Daimler have merged their DriveNow and car2go operations, with services offered by the new combined business expected to start soon.

Meanwhile, Paris, a city in which Zipcar will cease to operate, will see two manufacturer-backed schemes grow this year. PSA Group launched its new sharing scheme, Free2Move, during December 2018. The collapse of the Autolib service in the city earlier this year paved the way for PSA to enter the mobility services market, according to Brigitte Courtehoux, the director of Free2Move and PSA's mobility services business unit. Free2Move will initially operate 550 vehicles in Paris, down from the 4,000 vehicles that predecessor Autolib used.

Renault’s Moov’in Paris free-floating service will use the manufacturer’s electric vehicle (EV) range, with 100 Zoe and 20 Twizy models taking to the streets of the French capital in the XIth and XIIth districts, as well as in Clichy, in the Hauts-de-Seine area.

Audi plans

Barcelona has also seen the implementation of Audi on demand, with the first service hub opening earlier this month. The company will expand its network for premium mobility with local sales partners in numerous cities worldwide in 2019.

With Audi on demand in Barcelona, customers select their desired Audi from a range of current models, book it online and pick it up from the retailer ’Superwagen Sant Cugat.’ The booking period is between one hour and 28 days.

The Spanish Audi partner is thus following the example of eight dealerships in the United Kingdom. Last year, they integrated the digital service into their business operations for the first time.

‘Our experiences in the UK have been excellent. We are therefore looking forward to the roll-out of this product in another European market’, stated Bettina Bernhardt, Manager of Audi Business Innovation (ABI) GmbH. ‘This will open up further sources of revenue and a completely new digital business segment for the retailers.’ With Audi on demand, dealerships gain additional customer groups and sales opportunities, utilise their vehicle fleets more efficiently and increase their flexibility through used-car marketing. Payment depends, among other things, on the number of bookings and customer satisfaction.