Established car hire firms are exposed to the Uber-led global mainstreaming of tech-driven taxi bookings, car-pooling and ride-sharing. Europcar's investment in French start-up Ubeeqo is a sign that the newcomers won't be given a free ride.
Europcar has taken a majority stake in Ubeeqo for an undisclosed sum and is providing funding of 4 million euros to develop Ubeeqo's proprietary technology systems.
The announcement quoted Europcar's CEO Philippe Germond, states:
“With Ubeeqo, Europcar continues to develop its offering, its skills and its portfolio of technological innovations in mobility. We are immensely attracted by the ingenuity and audacity of the solutions Ubeeqo comes up with."
These ingenious and audacious solutions fall into three distinct products which not only cover business critical issues affecting traditional car rental businesses but also touch on some wider travel trends.
Bettercar Sharing and Bettercar Connected use Ubeeqo tech to optimise fleet usage and individual car usage respectively. They are aimed at B2B clients and could be seen as streamlining an existing business concept.
More interesting in a wider travel context is something called Mobilities Benefits, which has the potential to disrupt the established business practices by replacing the company car with a mobility allowance which can be used in multimodal way - factoring in better fleet usage (see above) with access to taxi and train bookings too.
Ubeeqo has developed its own technology since 2009 and in 2013 turned over 2.3 million euros. It already works with French blue-chips such as Airbus, L'Oreal and Danone.
The Europcar tie-up will see Ubeeqo expand into UK and Germany.
The news echoes Avis's cquisition in 2013 of Zipcar.
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