Rental giant Europcar is to launch its business-to-business car share subsidiary Ubeeqo in the UK in the second half of 2015.
Ubeeqo already operates in France and Belgium, is being set up in Germany and Ken McCall, managing director, Europcar UK Group, has confirmed that “it is expected that the first Ubeeqo operations in the UK will roll out during the course of the second half of 2015”.
The move towards what Ubeeqo calls “corporate car fleet pooling” is reflective of what the company says is a trend for employees and directors to book a car from a central stock rather than having exclusive use of one.
Car sharing demand is also reflective of changing trends from one of car ownership to car usage.
McCall said: “With Ubeeqo and other developments in the pipeline, our focus is on car usage. We think that fits with an overall change in behaviours, from car ownership to car usage, with ride-sharing particularly appealing for those living and working in cities.”
However, he disputes that the move by the world’s largest daily rental businesses into car sharing is a departure from their traditional business model.
McCall said: “Car rental is the ultimate in ‘sharing’. So the ‘sharing economy’ is nothing new to Europcar. Key to facilitating ‘shared’ services is making sure they’re in the right place, at the right time - and they do the right job.
“Accessibility and simplicity are the underlying goals influencing everything Europcar does.
“Our unique ‘accessibility index’ - based on the number of locations, where they are located and opening hours is applied to the Europcar network to ensure that it can provide mobility for all - in other words taking the vehicles to where the customers need them.
“But ‘sharing’ isn’t just about leaving customers to pick up their own vehicles. With time-poor travellers constantly under pressure, collection and delivery has become ever more important.
“Europcar has therefore invested in vehicle hubs from which vehicles can be accessed to get straight to the customer. Plus our unique approach to our own fleet management - running a ‘fluid fleet’ - means vehicles can be transported to wherever they need to be as soon as required.
“Mobile technology is also playing a fundamental role in Europcar’s services, to improve and streamline the car rental process.
“For example, ToMyCar, launched last month, is an innovative service that capitalises on mobile app and keyless start technologies facilitating car pick-up without having to go into a branch, thereby enabling travellers to get on the road without delay.”
Commenting on the imminent launch of Ubeeqo in the UK, McCall added: “Europcar is continually looking at the dynamics that influence how business travellers want to access mobility services and, not surprisingly, the need for more flexibility and convenience has been central to how our services have developed in the last year - and continue to develop.
“In particular, mindful of economic pressures on businesses, we have increased the choice in how businesses can use and pay for car rentals.
“The partnership with Ubeeqo reflects that commitment. Its range of innovative turnkey solutions neatly complements Europcar’s existing portfolio and this acquisition is further evidence of Europcar’s ongoing strategy to extend its range of mobility solutions available to customers - reflecting a growing focus on car usage rather than car ownership.
“With Ubeeqo, we will be able to provide our B2B clients with added-value services to handle and optimise their fleet management. Ubeeqo’s ‘Bettercar Sharing’, ‘Bettercar Connected’ and ‘Mobilities Benefits’ are unlike anything Europcar has previously offered to business clients, which we believe will definitely increase the range of mobility options available to businesses and their staff.”
‘Bettercar Sharing’ is a tailored car-sharing solution that promotes business fleet pooling by improving the overall time and cost efficiency of the fleet management process.
‘Bettercar Connected’ is claimed to be a ground-breaking fleet management solution which uses on-board telematics to give clients the ability to analyse vehicle fleet usage, giving them a way to generate significant savings.
Finally, ‘Mobilities Benefits’ allows employees to abandon their larger company car in exchange for access to a fleet of shared cars.
As part of the proposition, employees can receive a mobility allowance to fund personal travel requirements in the absence of their own vehicle making it essentially a multi-modal alternative to the company car.