Welcome to movmi’s Financial Fridays micro-webinar series. Every other month, Venkatesh Gopal, movmi’s Business Developement and Partnerships Manager will be inviting an exceptional panel of experts to join a discussion on shared mobility operational financials and business models. In the series we will explore key financial aspects of a diverse range of business models from sharing to subscription and even integrating MaaS along the way. The goal is to get a deeper understanding of operational management, utilization, electric vehicles, customer loyalty, technology, insurance and much more.
Kicking off our Financial Fridays series, Venkatesh is joined by Anders Wall from GreenMobility, Andrew Rosskamm from Shift Transit and Moritz Meenen from ElectricFeel for a conversation on operations and how it shapes individual business models.
Watch the micro-webinar below! Keep reading to learn more about each guest panelist and for a brief summary of our first Financial Fridays discussion!
financial fridays: andrew rosskamm, anders wall, moritz meenen & venkatesh gopal
FINANCIAL FRIDAYS session one: the PANEL
VP Investor Relations & Head of ESG & Strategic Partnerships at GreenMobility
GreenMobility offers a carsharing service consisting of electric vehicles across 7 European cities in 4 countries. They currently have a total fleet of 950 vehicles. Their app gives the users an overview of the cars in real time showing exact location and availability. Available City Cars can be reserved free of charge up to 20 min and after ended trip, the City Cars can be parked free of charge in any legal and public parking spot. The price per minute is fixed and everything is included in the price.
Chief Financial Officer at Shift Transit
Shift Transit is a leading mobility operations company, overseeing 25,000 mobility assets on a daily basis, including scooters, bikes, carsharing vehicles and microtransit/paratransit vans. They partner with private, public, and non-profit clients to provide day-to-day fleet management, marketing, and customer service support for a wide array of mobility programs that change depending on the needs of their clients.
Co-Founder & CEO at ElectricFeel
ElectricFeel offers the technology and know-how to help launch and scale shared electric mobility services with a current focus on electric bikes and mopeds. They have completed 18 projects in 18 cities with over 60 million kilometers of rides to date. Their goal is to create both sustainable cities and sustainable businesses so they only work with climate-friendly, cost-effective electric vehicles. They partner with local entrepreneurs and transport operators who cooperate with cities—without disrupting them.
financial fridays – session one: Supply and demand in Shared Mobility Operations
What factors matter the most in operations? Is there a most difficult one to tackle?
“Availability ultimately drives customer behaviour. There is a maximum distance people are willing to travel to get to a vehicle. This comes down to fleet management and the team and system you have in place. Battery level is also very important – how far can you go? Cleanliness and appearance play a factor as well. It’s vital to manage damages as soon as they happen and at the lowest price as possible. Keeping the fleet clean is all handled internally at GreenMobility which means it is handled faster and more efficiently.” – Anders Wall
“In the world of bike share the three most important factors are asset maintenance and repair, bicycle rebalancing and customer service. The most important is asset maintenance and repair of both bikes and stations, safety checks and cleaning the assets. It directly correlates with ridership gains and also accounts for at least 25% of total operating costs. The key to doing it well is having good data that allows you to predict patterns for damages.” – Andrew Rosskamm
“Data is key. When having conversations with operators you find it can be different from city to city and depends on the stage of each project. When you launch in a competitive market, you will prioritize availability. This can come at a high cost. You need to take into account whether you want to be lean or aggressive. Battery swapping is also a massive factor to consider. ElectricFeel have a lot of clients that don’t have charging stations so instead they have teams riding around and swapping out batteries. This is great if launching in a city that does not have the infrastructure, but it also means an additional labour cost.” – Moritz Meenen
In shared mobility, operations not only affect every critical piece in the financial model but also are the first to get impacted by financial decisions. Take rebalancing for instance. Not every operator, but most of them face issues with rebalancing. The time of year(or day of the week and/or time) dictates the need to track, manage and analyze data. For example with the Toronto bikeshare program (pre-Covid) they found rebalancing overnight was the only productive way to do it as rush-hour-commuter traffic slowed things down during the day. This has flipped since the lockdown but made sense to take decisions based on data therefore, invest in it.
Operations also get impacted by city regulations. Cities have different approaches to EV charging infrastructure availability and deployment strategies. Understand their needs and targets especially when they are unsure of who should invest. This poses a question of how partnership costs (public or private charging) would look like and if a large EV car sharing fleet can be supported well considering their timely charging needs. In the broader view, cities are aggressively shutting (or have planned to shut) out gasoline vehicles. For micromobility (scooters and mopeds), this is already a norm today. City regulations also are driven by space (land-use). In Europe, local municipalities have stricter terms for parking, choice of fuel for vehicles permitted in city-centers. In the US, competition weighs heavier than local regulations in many cases and data sharing is a ‘fee’ that needs to be looked at too.
Most of all, utilization is the key for a successful business model. That way the focus is on that balance between supply and demand. Private companies (operators) are mainly driven by targeting maximum profitability while public shared mobility (e.g. community bikeshare, coop carshare) players think more in terms of financial stability alongside reliability, equity and supporting public transit. Utilization cannot be dealt at from a straight-line approach. Depending on the business model, mode choice and target user/city it does have a favorable range within which it balances between making enough vehicles available for users while having a healthy, consistent turnaround.
For a shared mobility system, utilization is critical but at least in the bike share world it’s seldom sufficient and typically you need some type of public funding or sponsorship to close the funding gap. In the scooter and car share world, utilization is the key for driving profitability over the long term.
Back when starting, GreenMobility hoped for very high numbers (for utilization), but have come to realise that it may not happen for quite some time, especially when people have set travel behaviors and habits. They beginning to see an increase as people change their habits. In Copenhagen GreenMobility are showing profitability which is one of the first EV car share services to do so. It has also taken them a few years to do this and other cities will get there eventually, but right now, it’s about continuing to drive all the smaller operational elements on a daily basis.
The challenge is that there are so many problems to solve (utilization) and some of them are complex mathematical ones. Everyone must push the limits when it comes to logistics and squeeze out just what exactly is possible with technology and data, but you also need to keep in mind the people doing the work in the field. You also need to look at the big seismic shifts in the market and keep an eye on new innovation and designs that cost a fraction of the prices of previous models/assets. Also look out for potential business partners with big companies that are looking to make a change right now. By looking outside the box you can make cost effective changes without having to make key metric changes within your business.