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Sharing economy helps consumers bridge The ‘Attainability Gap’

Sharing economy helps consumers bridge The ‘Attainability Gap’

People still dream of owning major assets such as homes and vehicles but the cost of ownership, the need to pay down rising debt and rising interest rates have created an “Attainability Gap,”  according to a new study by car2go.

The survey of 1,800 people in major U.S. and Canadian cities reveals that while 66 percent of consumers hope to purchase a primary home, only 34 percent believe they can achieve their goal in the coming year — revealing an “Attainability Gap” of 32 percent. Similarly, while 55 percent of consumers surveyed are interested in purchasing a car, just 46 percent feel that goal is attainable.

In response to this growing gap between what people want and what they can afford, consumers are increasingly turning to shared services as a smart, convenient way to save for important life purchases and achieve their long term goals.

“We’re seeing this trend reflected in our membership data,” explained Paul DeLong, CEO of car2go North America, the North American arm of the world’s largest, fastest-growing one-way carsharing service. “Millennials are one of the heaviest users of car2go and represent nearly half of our 800,000-plus members here. That same demographic is eagerly saving-up to buy their first home or car. Shared services like car2go help hundreds of thousands of people every day bridge the attainability gap through affordable access to services they need that also help them save for life’s major purchases.”

Savings and investments and ‘home purchase of primary residence’ were the top financial priorities of more than half (52 percent) of survey respondents, while 11 percent said they were still focused on paying off their student loans. Not surprisingly, respondents also viewed ‘affordability’ as the number one benefit of being a member of a carsharing service.

With car2go adding thousands of four-door Mercedes-Benz vehicles to its North American vehicle network, more people in cities across the U.S. andCanada will soon experience the ease and affordability of one-way carsharing while they build their savings. For this study, car2go surveyed 1,800 adult respondents in the following markets: Washington D.C.; Denver; Austin; New York City; Seattle; Vancouver; Calgary; Toronto; and Montreal.  Respondents were from all income brackets and did not necessarily need to be a member of a car sharing service.

With 2.7 million members and growing, car2go is the world’s largest, fastest-growing one-way carshare service. Over 800,000 of car2go’s members reside in the U.S. and Canada.
• car2go study finds “Sharing economy helps consumers bridge The ‘Attainability Gap’.”

GM’s Maven assembling building blocks for ride, delivery services

GM’s Maven assembling building blocks for ride, delivery services

General Motors Co’s Maven car sharing and rental unit is expanding its partnerships in ride and delivery services as parent GM considers whether to enter the on-demand mobility business now dominated by Uber Technologies and Lyft Inc. The trick will be not to alienate the two ride services startups, whose drivers are leasing thousands of GM vehicles.

Maven already has begun to pull away from Lyft, in which GM holds a 9 percent stake, with its own Gig leasing business, officials said. Through Gig, Maven can provide GM vehicles directly to ride-sharing drivers who previously leased them through Lyft Express Drive and Uber Vehicle Solutions.

While executives say its future role has yet to be fully defined, Maven also has been assembling knowledge and expertise. This could enable GM to eventually offer on-demand mobility services, similar to those provided by Uber and Lyft, to a new generation of consumers who buy access to transportation by the hour.

Like other automakers keen to address the sharing economy, GM through Maven is testing a variety of on-demand services, from peer-to-peer car sharing to fractional ownership. So far, opinion is divided on whether and how much such on-demand services will supplant the industry’s traditional vehicle ownership model.

Asked if GM aims to create its own ride and delivery service, Maven boss Julia Steyn says, “You’re on the right track. We are building this out step by step.” Maven focused initially on car sharing at its launch in early 2016, then quickly added third-party leasing services through Uber and Lyft. Now it has partnered with on-demand delivery services GrubHub (meals), Instacart (groceries) and Roadie (packages), as well as HopSkipDrive, an on-demand ride share service aimed at children of working parents.

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  • GM’s MAVEN is working on ride-sharing.
Uber and Lyft grab more business from taxis and rental cars

Uber and Lyft grab more business from taxis and rental cars

Business travelers are increasingly turning to Uber and Lyft while taking fewer cabs and renting fewer cars. Money spent on rental cars and taxis each fell by two percent to 29 percent and eight percent, respectively.

New data show business travelers are increasingly turning to Uber and Lyft while taking fewer cabs and renting fewer cars when out on the road. Certify, a travel management firm which handles corporate travel transactions, analyzed more than 10 million receipts filed in the second quarter. It found the amount of money spent on rental cars and taxis each fell by two percent. Rental cars controlled 29 percent of the ground-travel expenses for business travelers and taxis had eight percent.

Meanwhile, both Uber and Lyft grew their share of the ground transportation market by two percent. Uber controlled 55 percent of the ground travel expenses for business travelers while Lyft had eight percent.

“The revolution in ground transportation we’re seeing today led by Uber and Lyft has far reaching implications for the future of corporate travel,” said Robert Neveu, CEO, Certify. For many corporate travelers, the switch from renting a car to taking an Uber or Lyft helps explains why companies like Hertz have struggled in recent years. In the second quarter, Hertz lost $28 million. The stock, which traded at just under $125 in August 2014 has dropped to just under $17.

Meanwhile, taxi operators in large cities are reeling from the rise in popularity of ride sharing. Early this year, a New York City taxi medallion, which is required to operate a taxi in the country’s largest city, sold for $241,000. Four years ago, a taxi medallion in New York sold for $1.3 million.

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  • Uber and Lyft grab more business from rental cars and taxis.
The sharing economy is failing for one simple reason – people can’t be trusted

The sharing economy is failing for one simple reason – people can’t be trusted

The inherent problem with many of the biggest players is that their business models are based on trust, yet they’re growing so quickly that they’re forgetting that.

Earlier this month an article in the South China Morning Post underscored just how bizarre the world of business has become.

A Chinese startup offering to lend umbrellas to urbanites on the go was reportedly dealt a major blow when 300,000 of its umbrellas went missing within mere months of the venture launching. The umbrella-sharing scheme required customers to make an initial deposit equivalent to just over £2 after which they were charged 6p for every half hour of use.

Predictably perhaps, problems stemmed from the portability of the object upon which the whole system relied: busy city dwellers clearly liked the idea of having prompt access to a sometimes unwieldy umbrella when the heavens opened, but they were then taking the umbrellas home, stashing them away and forgetting about them altogether.

The company appeared to have overestimated the trust and reliability of its consumer base, while disregarding the fact that humans are inherently selfish. Fortunately, the damage in this case appears not to have been prohibitive. Sharing E Umbrella – as the company is called – has indicated that it’s heading back to the drawing board and is hoping to re-launch with 30 million new umbrellas by the end of the year. But the case nonetheless serves as a powerful metaphor for the exploding sharing economy and the risks it bears.

The anecdote is also suggestive of the fact that – as the sharing economy becomes a staple of our vocabulary and starts to penetrate most sectors of global industry – we may well be underestimating one highly unpredictable X Factor. Namely, the human factor: We can’t be trusted. Nothing we do is ever altruistic and – to make matters worse – we’re often quite stupid. Sorry, but it’s true.

The sharing economy is gargantuan. A recent research report published by Bank of America Merrill Lynch estimates the value of it is about $250bn (£190bn) and it’s growing rapidly. It’s not hard to understand why it’s flourished in recent years. It aims to unlock the value of unused, or underused, assets, saving us time, hassle and – crucially – money. We’re still scarred by one of the worst recessions in history and many of us are natives of the World Wide Web. That’s what defines our habits.

We want top service, at rock-bottom prices, at the click of a button within the hour, and so the seeds have been sown for the emergence of car-sharing apps (Uber), rental companies (AirBnB), collaborative work spaces (WeWork) and entertainment sites (Spotify), to name but a few.

As availability grows, though, so too does the scope for trouble.

Earlier this month, Chinese news agency Xinhua reported that a company was forced to temporarily shut down a string of shared napping pods for sleep-deprived workers in Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu, on concerns the capsules could become a shelter for criminals.

Rachel Botsman, the author of the book The Rise Of Collaborative Consumption, told the publication Fast Company that we’re experiencing “a seismic shift from individual getting and spending towards a rediscovery of collective good.”

Except, to my mind, the problem seems to be that we’re not actually hardwired to care about this collective good. What we care about is maximising our own resources. We want a cheap holiday and are willing to throw caution to the wind. While we’re away, we don’t want our apartment to sit empty when we could be using it to foot the bill of said holiday. We want a car to pick us up and take us home. Getting a cheap ride is more important than knowing that our driver is safe, reliable and honest.

Our overwhelming demand for an effortless existence is encouraging the rise of supply at such a rapid pace that we risk losing sight of the basics: protection and regulation.

Perhaps the most distressing evidence of things getting out of control has been served up by Uber – a veritable doyenne of the sharing economy. Sexual assault claims levelled against drivers for the company have been blamed by campaigners on lacklustre background checks. Could that be because of how fast the company has expanded?

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  • Is the sharing economy failing because people cannot be trusted?
Cruise is running an autonomous ride-hailing service for employees in SF

Cruise is running an autonomous ride-hailing service for employees in SF

Cruise, the self-driving startup acquired by GM last year, is already operating a complete autonomous ride-hailing service in San Francisco for its employees. The service is called “Cruise Anywhere,” and it allows employees to use a smartphone app to get anywhere they need to go in SF, seven days a week.

Cruise Anywhere is in beta, hence the employee-only restriction, but the company says that some employees are already using it as their primary source of transportation, replacing either personal vehicle ownership, public transit or traditional ride-hailing services completely. In total, Cruise says 10 percent of its SF employees are using the beta, and more are being enrolled each week with a waitlist currently in place.

“We’ve always said we’d launch first with a rideshare application, and this is in line with that and just further evidence of that,” said Cruise CEO and co-founder Kyle Vogt in an interview. “We’re really excited about how the technology is evolving, and the rate at which it’s evolving. This is a manifestation of that — putting the app in people’s hands and having them use it for the first time and make AVs their primary form of transportation.”

During testing in San Francisco, Cruise has revealed in videos that an app is used to call its prototype AVs. But the company is focused on developing the hailing component as a full-fledged service itself, not just for testing purposes. The aim is to create something that can stand on its own, as Cruise believes that all aspects of the self-driving experience are important to differentiating one autonomous technology provider from another.

“We see a future where we’re open to partnering with one network or partner, many partners or even no partners if that’s the best way to release this technology and achieve the societal benefits of driverless cars sooner,” Vogt explained, noting that focusing on all aspects of the service gives them more flexibility with a go-to-market strategy.

Cruise employees are able to use the Cruise Anywhere services between 16 and 24 hours per day depending on availability of the R&D fleet that Cruise operates in SF, and this pool of vehicles is set to grow by more than 100 cars in the next couple of months, which should expand operational hours. It’s available across all of the mapped area of San Francisco where the test fleet operates, and the app works like any ridesharing experience, mapping ride requesters with available cars.

  • Cruise offers autonomous ride-hailing service in San Francisco.
Car-sharing in Russia is about to boom

Car-sharing in Russia is about to boom

At 17 million square kms, Russia is the largest country in the world. Or to put that in automotive terms: it would take two weeks to drive from one end of Russia to the other. This huge country has a huge capital, and both need a huge fleet. For the past few years, Moscow has been a laboratory for car-sharing. The experiment has proved successful and, says a study by LeasePlan Russia, the formula is spreading to the rest of Russia.

The entire automotive stock in Russia is about 42 million vehicles in private ownership, and 3.5 million in corporate fleets. Annual vehicle sales amount to 1.5 million units, mainly to the private sector. But attitudes towards ownership are shifting, and Russians are warming to car-sharing as an increasingly mainstream alternative.

Car-sharing in Russia took its first tentative steps in 2013, in Moscow and St. Petersburg. By 2015, the formula was familiar enough for Moscow city authorities to announce plans to expand the Russian capital’s car-sharing fleet to 10,000 cars. That target is still far off: the overall car-sharing fleet in the capital today totals about 3,000 cars. In the rest of Russia, car-sharing totals more than 2,700 cars. As of now, The largest companies on the Russian car-sharing market are: Delimobile, Car5, YouDrive, AnyTime and BelkaCar.

In Moscow alone, more than 300,000 customers subscribe to the various car-sharing schemes that are on offer. In the 20-month period from September 2015 to May 2017, the number of car-sharing trips undertaken by Muscovites exceeded 1.3 million. Each shared car is used by an average of eight people a day. The average car-sharing trip lasts 37 minutes.

The target customer for Russia’s car-sharing services has a distinct profile: young to middle-age (21-40 years old), metropolitan and with a preference for self-drive over taxis – the financial savings are a major factor in this. Around 90% of Russian car-share customers has one or two university degrees. Job-wise, they are mainly full-time employees, top executives or business owners. The share of blue-collar and unemployed customers of car-sharing services is minimal (5-7%).

Four factors are driving the growth of car-sharing in Russia. Firstly, a change in attitude towards car ownership, or more precisely: the cost of car ownership. Studies show the average ‘owned’ car sits idle for up to 90% of the time, which of course has implications for the effective cost of the car (when it is actually used).

Secondly, the transport situation in Russia’s big cities is critical in terms of traffic density and traffic jams, and the limited availability and high cost of parking spaces. These factors are pushing the demand for alternative mobility solutions.

Thirdly, Russia is very advanced when it comes to adopting technological innovations, which permeate virtually all aspects of everyday life in the country. Russians are very savvy when it comes to ordering items online, for example.

And finally, operational leasing has become the technical platform of choice for car-sharing companies. This allows them to concentrate on their core business, leaving fleet management to the lessors. Another big advantage is financial, i.e. being able to forgo the acquisition of the vehicles themselves. Among suppliers for car-sharing companies in Russia, LeasePlan currently is the market leader (43%).

Over the next two years, car-sharing will break out of the two big cities and become available in 15 cities with a population of more than one million, as well as in several resorts on the Black Sea.

According to projections by LeasePlan, the Russian car-sharing market outside Moscow will exceed 5,000 vehicles by the end of this year, and grow to 7,000 in 2018. By that time, the Moscow car-sharing fleet alone should number between 10,000 and 15,000 vehicles.

All operators are planning for this expansion beyond Moscow and St. Petersburg, as the awareness of the advantages and the convenience of leasing are growing among the Russian business community and the general population.

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  • Car-sharing in Russia is about to boom
Finnish company MaaS Global completes funding round, raising €14.2 million

Finnish company MaaS Global completes funding round, raising €14.2 million

In its recently completed funding round, MaaS Global managed to raise
€14.2 million. Significant additional investments were made by Transdev, Veho and Karsan, who are among the Finnish company’s older shareholders. New investors include the Japanese company DENSO and the Turkish company Swiftcom, as well as Toyota Financial Services and Aioi Nissay Dowa, whose investments were announced about a month ago. MaaS Global’s Whim mobility service, which operates in the Helsinki region, is being launched this year in the West Midlands, UK and the Amsterdam region, Netherlands.Mr. Sadahiro Usui, President and CEO, DENSO International Europe says:

“We are very pleased to partner with MaaS Global to jointly develop the emerging mobility service market and ecosystem that revolutionize the way people access to all modes of transportation, and which also contributes to DENSO’s core mission to realize a future sustainable automotive society.”

As part of the recent funding round, the existing shareholders Transdev, Karsan Otomotiv Sanayii Ticaret AS and Veho Oy Ab increased their ownership in MaaS Global.

Mr. Thierry Mallet, CEO, Transdev says:

“As first investor in MaaS Global, we strongly believe that we are moving forward to the mobility of tomorrow with Whim. We welcome our new partners in our quest to offer passenger a true alternative to car ownership.”

The aim: easy mobility worldwide. MaaS Global wants to globally revolutionise the way people move. The Whim app, launched by the company in the Helsinki region, is the world’s first mobility service which allows users to book and pay for all mobility services in one app and for a monthly fee.

Thanks to this exceptionally successful funding round MaaS Global can take mobility services to international markets. Whim is already in test mode in the West Midlands region of the UK, and later this year the service will be launched in the Amsterdam region. MaaS Global’s Founder and CEO, Sampo Hietanen, has a vision of seamless mobility in and between cities.

“In the future, you will be able to move anywhere, at any time and by any mode of transport without needing to own a vehicle. Our goal is to build a global roaming system for transport which people can use to travel from, say, Helsinki to Brussels using one app. Strategic investments ensure that we are among the first in this mobility revolution,” Mr. Hietanen says.

  • MaaS Global (Whim) increases funding by 14.2 million euros.
Taxify announces strategic partnership with Didi Chuxing

Taxify announces strategic partnership with Didi Chuxing

Taxify, a leading ride sharing company in Europe and Africa, announced a strategic partnership with Didi Chuxing, the world’s leading mobile transportation platform. Under this partnership, DiDi will invest in and collaborate with Taxify to support the latter’s further growth and innovation across its diversified markets.

Launched in Estonia in 2013, Taxify is the fastest-growing ride-hailing company in Europe and Africa, offering taxi- and private car-hailing services to over 2.5 million users in major hubs across 18 countries, including Hungary, Romania, the Baltic States, South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya. Powered by AI technologies, DiDi offers an extensive range of mobility services, including Taxi, Premier, Express, Luxe, Hitch, etc., to over 400 million users in more than 400 cities. In addition to creating over 17 million flexible work and income opportunities for its driver-partners, DiDi leverages its AI capabilities to help cities develop integrated and sustainable smart transportation solutions.

Markus Villig, Founder and CEO of Taxify, said: “Taxify will utilize this partnership to solidify our position in core markets in Europe and Africa. We believe DiDi is the best partner to help us become the most popular and efficient transport option in Europe & Africa”.

Will Cheng Wei, Founder and CEO of Didi Chuxing, said: “Taxify provides innovative, high-quality mobility services across many diverse markets. We share a strong commitment to harnessing the power of mobile technology to satisfying rapidly evolving consumer demands and revitalizing traditional transportation industry. I believe this partnership will contribute to cross-regional smart transportation linkages between Asian, European and African markets.”

• Taxify and Did Chuxing join forces

Amtrak and Lyft Announce Rideshare Partnership

Amtrak and Lyft Announce Rideshare Partnership

Amtrak and Lyft, the fastest growing rideshare company in the U.S., are making it easier to go more places: “We know most trips don’t start or end at an Amtrak station. This exciting partnership with Lyft is one of the ways we are working to make it easier for travelers to get where they’re going in a safe, comfortable and convenient way.”

Beginning today, customers can use the Amtrak mobile app to access the Lyft app to request a ride. New users of Lyft will receive $5 off each of their first four Lyft rides by using the promo code AMTRAKLYFT. Lyft operates in more than 360 communities across the U.S., covering 80 percent of the U.S. population and reaching 97 percent of Amtrak riders. This partnership allows for a seamless end-to-end travel experience from your doorstep to an Amtrak station.

“We are focused on improving the customer experience, and this is one way we are working to make your entire journey as seamless and enjoyable as possible,” said Jason Molfetas, Executive Vice President for Marketing and Business Development for Amtrak.

“We’re looking forward to working with Amtrak. As a fixture of American travel, Amtrak makes it simple and convenient for passengers, something Lyft feels passionately about as well,” said David Baga, Chief Business Officer for Lyft, “Both companies have a long-standing commitment to supporting communities we serve and we’re excited to grow together.”

As two leaders in transportation, Amtrak and Lyft are excited about this partnership because it offers immediate benefits to travelers – and it’s just the beginning. We both share a commitment to improving the travel experience and connecting with the communities we serve. Stay tuned as Amtrak and Lyft build on this partnership across the 46 state Amtrak network.

  • Amtrak and Lyft in partnership for first and last mile.
Moscow hosts the Fifth International Eurasian Forum ‘TAXI’ on August 3-4.

Moscow hosts the Fifth International Eurasian Forum ‘TAXI’ on August 3-4.

The fifth International Eurasian Forum “TAXI” will be held on August 3-4, 2017 in Moscow. The choice of the city for holding the event is not accidental: the 110-th anniversary of the Moscow taxi – the first taxi in Russia – is celebrated this year.

According to the organisers “the purpose of the Forum is to promote the development of a competitive and highly efficient system of transport services by passenger cars for the population and the creation of a civilized service market where equal opportunities and rights are provided to all participants. The forum is a platform for uniting the efforts of government bodies, the business community and the general public in order to develop effective solutions in the field of improving the quality and safety of taxis.”

The event will be held with the support and participation of the State Duma of the Russian Federation, Moscow City Government, the relevant federal and regional ministries and departments. The organiser of the forum is the autonomous non-profit organization “International Eurasian Forum ‘TAXI’”

The key themes at the Forum 2017 will be the state regulation of the taxi industry, transportation security technologies, taxis in the context of the development of urban mobility, the development of the taxi business, as well as innovative technologies in taxi operations.

In parallel with the Forum’s business programme an extensive exhibition will be held. The latest samples of taxi equipment, taxi platforms, software, as well as various services for the taxi industry will be presented.

Currently, the taxi is the flagship of the innovative economy. Solving issues related to the development of the industry will make a significant contribution to the creation of principles for the regulation of new business models and technologies and the formation of a sustainable and accessible urban environment. It is this integrated approach that is the basis for the formation of the Forum’s programme in 2017, and its implementation will be ensured by the joint work of federal and regional government bodies, taxi companies, technology platforms and the expert community. For the 2017 Forum the organisers expect about 700 representatives of federal and regional authorities, commercial and non-profit organizations of Russia, CIS countries and others.

The main outcome of the Forum will be a unique public resolution with suggestions and recommendations of the participants, which will be sent to the public authorities of the Russian Federation in order to improve legislation and relevant state policy.

Taxi companies, taxi radio circuits, car manufacturers, fuel companies, manufacturers of specialized equipment and software developers for the taxi industry, companies that provide leasing, insurance, banking, consulting services; educational, scientific and public organizations have been invited to participate in this event.

The Forum will be held at one of the leading venues of the capital – in the Congress Park at the Radisson Royal Hotel, Moscow (formerly hotel ‘Ukraine’).

• This year’s Forum will (again) be held in Moscow to celebrate a 110 years of Moscow taxis.