Pushing rival mobility services is the way to dominate the market, PSA’s Grégoire Olivier tells Paul Myles.

Sharing and promoting competitors’ mobility services is the PSA Group’s strategy in a bid to become a major player in urban transport solutions.

That’s the way forward to meeting what will become an unstoppable global move towards car-sharing, Grégoire Olivier PSA’s executive vice-president mobility services told TU-Automotive at the Geneva Motor Show.

He was explaining the carmaker’s thinking behind opening its Free2Move mobility app to every, and any, reliable mobility solution provider. “In cities around the world, lots of people owning a car tell us ‘we’d love to away with owning a car and just use mobility services’,” Olivier said. “This is an urban phenomenon but it is also a global phenomenon, one se see as a slow tsunami. Why a tsunami? That’s because it’s irrepressible and also a generational thing because the younger are our customers, the more they are prone to this way of thinking.

“As customers want a reliable mobility service that can, say, work perfectly well on a Friday evening when it’s raining and not just on a midweek afternoon when, of course, people are stuck at work and don’t need those services. Once we have created these reliable mobility services, we believe that of people currently owning a car in big cities 30% in the US, 40% in Europe and 50-60% in China would decide not to use their cars so it’s a big phenomenon.”

So PSA bought the app from a German developer because it allows a user, in any major global city, to look at the app’s map on their smartphone where all available car for car-sharing will appear each with a price tag to help assess the compromise between distance to walk and price. This service started in February in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, the UK and Sweden. It will soon be available in France and Spain, then Benelux and the US by summer time.

Open source approach

Yet, restricting the app to just PSA owned services was never on the agenda, said Olivier. “Eventually, we want to cover the globe with this so people just need to have one app. That’s because our customers say they have too many apps on their smartphones. Secondly, in order to have a truly reliable service, this app is an aggregator of many, many services. For example, we have access to car2go from Daimler, we have BMW’s DriveNow and we talked to both of them that we were going to acquire this app and they said ‘fine it is an ecosystem and the more the merrier’.

“You need to aggregate many, many services to make sure that whenever a customer wants a car there is one available because quality of service is of the essence. Of course, we ourselves, are developing car-sharing schemes such as the most recent one in Madrid where the Mayor has banned private cars in some areas. Yet, still we believe, when the customer asks for something reliable anywhere in the world so for that we can’t invest fast enough to achieve that and hence our app registers many competitor services.

“It’s free to the customer and each time they order a service we get a small revenue from that and everyone’s happy.

Olivier admitted PSA expects to gain more than a little commission from the app which would form a soft-sell for the brand. He explained: “We will win loyalty because they will only need this app and customers want things that are simple. Most mobility services today involve too much details from the customer. So with our app it’s just one registration for hundreds of services.”

[Mob.Myles.2017.03.24]

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