Renault Group’s finance arm RCI has bought a 75% stake in iCabbi, in response to the rapid growth in the ride hailing sector.
iCabbi is an app and dispatch management service for taxi fleets. It enables customers to summon a cab from their smartphone and lets taxi firms identify the most approprate driver to send.
RCI aims to become a business-to-business mobility operator and says taxis are a key piece in the “mobility solution mosaic.”
More than 70,000 taxis and private hire vehicles use iCabbi in Ireland, the UK and North America, and in the UK 19 of the 32 largest taxi companies already use iCabbi.
Taxi firms operate fleets of 500-plus vehicles and about 70% to 80% of the vehicles are driven by owner-drivers, allocated clients by a central dispatcher.
The opportunity to transform this process into an automated app-based process is what attracted RCI to iCabbi. Without this leap in technology, these firms will find themselves under threat from ride-hailing platforms such as Lyft and Uber.
Gavan Walsh, founder of iCabbi, believes RCI sees an opportunity to invest in the taxi industry and supply taxi companies with the new tools they need to compete against the start-up challengers and hopefully then sell them new cars.
“In three to five years I would like to see an electric vehicle by the supplier with our operating system built into it, so it doesn’t need a third party phone or software,” said Walsh.