Big Money



More big money moves into smart urban car travel concepts

In the last issue of New Transit we reported a significant transaction involving a car hire business moving across into something closer to urban mobility with the acquisition of the ZipCar car share system by Avis. It’s not the only major strategic move being made by major players interested in a new role for cars in cities, and now the subject of New Transit’s new Carshare Europe knowlege network and event in Brussels on 9th July.

Another major deal has seen the big money US private equity firm Carlyle Group buying Addison Lee, one of Britain’s largest minicab companies. And a crucially significant factor could be that Carlyle already owns a breakdown company RAC and that they state they are looking at expanding the successful Addison Lee Minicab model beyond its current London focus.

One of the key factors in the growth of Addison Lee from just one car in 1975 to a fleet of some 4,500 carrying 10, million passengers in London each year is the smart booking systems they have brought to the urban taxi market.

Meanwhile Volkswagen’s Financial Services subsidiary has announced the purchase of  a 60% stake in Collect Car BV of Rotterdam, the operators of Greenwheels Carsharing.  The new owners will be a joint venture between VW Financial Services and the current majority owner Pon Holdings, a Dutch conglomerate with transportation-related holdings in auto importing and bicycle manufacturing.

The head of VW Financial Services Frank Witter said “We see, pay-per-use approach interesting growth opportunities. With Greenwheels you win a very successful partner whose experience in car sharing and the integration into public transport concepts will move help us move forward.”

VW developed its own carsharing service with a pilot project called Quicar in Hannover in 2011 linked to local VW dealers and in 2012 demonstrated it to their world-wide network of importers and affiliates.  But, to date, Hannover is the sole location for Quicar.  

Greenwheels started in 1995 and is the Netherlands largest carsharing provider, with more than 2,000 vehicles, though facing competition from ConnectCar and StudentCar in a number of cities. It began service in Germany in 2004, taking over operation of StattAuto operations in Berlin and Hamburg and now operates in 7 major cities in Germany. Greenwheels had been eyeing London but despite beginning on a small scale in two boroughs, quietly pulled out in march.

Car industry giant Ford has been driving on with its ideas on new mobility too. To a Blueprint for Mobility script set out last spring by executive chairman Bill Ford (New Transit March 2012) the company has now unveiled  a FORD2GO Car Sharing Programme with its German Dealer Network and DB Rent – the company behind Flinkster car sharing.

It claims it will be the first automotive manufacturer-backed, nationwide car-sharing programme incorporating dealerships. 56 per cent of Europeans say they would consider car-sharing, according to a Ford-sponsored survey of 6,000 people*

DB Rent has developed a Web-based booking system along with iOS and Android smartphone apps for customers.

Bernhard Mattes, chairman of Ford of Germany and vice president, Ford Customer Service Division, Ford of Europe said. “As a company, we are committed to a collaborative and integrated approach to future mobility, and the FORD2GO service is another significant step in exploring exactly how that future could look.”

All these developments, plus plans to establish an industry body to accredit and set data standards and signage for car share schemes will be discussed at New Transit’s first Carshare Europe event in Brussels on July 9th.


 Carshare Europe conference
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