Acceleration and Innovation when Launching Carsharing Services by Sandra Phillips

Sandra Phillips on stage movmi CEO

We had the opportunity to share our insights at the FIA Conference, put on in collaboration with wocomoco. We are also excited to be attending wocomoco’s conference in Berlin this October, but in the interim we are happy to share with you the most important details of the FIA discussion by our Founder, Sandra Phillips.

Listen to Sandra’s full talk below.

3 areas that define a carsharing operation

There are three areas that define a carsharing, in fact any shared mobility venture, and they all have to be addressed when launching a service.

shared mobility

  1. The physical space. This includes the road and parking spaces, depending on your shared mobility model. Station-based models such as Zipcar or Modo Autoshare need to find exactly the same amount of parking spaces as they offer vehicles in their fleet. Free-floating carsharing organizations need to engage their municipality in a conversation of creating a special permit for these shared vehicles so they can be parked in the Home Zone. Regardless of the option, the users need to find the vehicle in a physical space and wayfinding is key.
  2. The vehicles. On the one hand they need to be connected to the cloud for members to reserve and unlock it through their app. But apart from connecting the cars to the cloud, they have to be well maintained and serviced. For shared mobility, the RoadSide has expanded: it’s not only about mechanical functionality, the vehicle also needs to be clean and in the right location. The more efficient your infield management is, the better the experience for your members and the more cost effective for your operations.
  3. The members. They all need access to a vehicle on an occasional basis and want to book one, drive one and move to wherever they need to go. But before they even can drive, they need to register for your program. Historically, this process was cumbersome and complicated and so people dropped off and never became part of it. This is one of the issues that has been tackled by some carsharing technology providers and organizations in the last two years.

locating vehicles easily


As I mentioned, one of the biggest challenges for members is finding vehicles easily in the city. If it’s carsharing, members also need to park the vehicle in a safe and legal space at the end of the trip. Educating members base around parking rules and creating good way-finding, is one of the most overlooked challenges of shared mobility today.

One company that has great insights into parking is SpotAngels. Based in San Francisco and backed by Y Combinator and angel investors such as Luc Vincent – founder of Google Street View — and Lars Rasmussen, founder of Google Maps, it has created parking maps for over 20 US cities, plus London, Brussels, Munich, Stuttgart and Hamburg.

SpotAngels uses computer vision and machine learning on street images that they collect to build maps that are 98% accurate. Drivers love the SpotAngels app which saves them from parking tickets . They have piloted with one carshare operator to integrate their maps into the operations and consumer apps to help avoid tickets and tows.

safety and cleanliness

ecoservice carsharing shuttling and cleaning

Carsharing is about providing the same convenience of getting around town without any of the hassles of car ownership. No cleaning required, no maintenance to be worried about and never
have to find a gas station again. That’s the simple promise: in reality it’s not so easy to fulfill.

You have to meet two parts of the equation: having the cars in the right location AND in good condition. Your car share customers will not book a car if the vehicle is too far away from them. You will have areas that are hot zones, no matter how many vehicles are in that neighbourhood, there will always be a renter. And then you have cold zones, where vehicles are parked for days and nobody uses them. To balance the fleet properly you need a smart relocation strategy.

Equally important is safety and cleanliness: when the car is dirty, low on fuel, has vehicle damage and so on it means the customer won’t drive it or have a bad experience driving it.

You can turn to a company like Ecoservice to provide these necessities for success.

2 Parts to the user journey

carsharing member journey

This infographics show you that there are two parts to the user journey: first, and highlighted here in yellow, is the application process to become a member. Second, which you can see here in pink is the rental process. The first one is a one-time affair while the second one is repeated over and over. No wonder that most technology providers focused on making the second one seamless.

However, the first process is equally important: last month we have tested the registration process of 8 operators in three major cities in Europe. 6 out of 8 where two-step registration processes that involved an in-person appointment in a retail location to verify ID and driver’s license.

This second step interrupts the online registration process significantly and we know from one provider that about 50% of the applicants never complete the registration process. This is not surprising, knowing that millenias, the key target demographic for shared mobility services, avoid an in-person interaction if at all possible.

ChecKr, a San Francisco based startup runs background checks that typically cover driving and criminal records and basic identity confirmation. ChecKr has been integrated into ReachNow’s registration process (ReachNow is BMW’s entry into shared mobility in North America) and they were the first carsharing operator that registered and verified a member in under 2 minutes.

All of these components come together to truly set up new carsharing and shared mobility operations for success, but there are others as well. We recommend listening to the full audio (top of this post) for the best review.

Interested in learning more about a successful shared mobility launch? Contact us here.

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