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Start-up plans to boost electric mobility with platform business model and free rental

The business model is based on selling ad space and data. End users go free.

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Electric vehicles are a key way for cities to meet climate action goals and reduce pollution.

 

A growing number of countries have established targets for EV sales. Norway, for example, has laid out an ambitious goal to sell only zero-emission cars from 2025. Similarly, the Chinese government is targeting 20 per cent EV car sales by 2025.

 

A range of strategies are being deployed to increase adoption, including grants, tax breaks and rebates. However, for now, usage is still limited.

 

German start-up UZE Mobility has a more radical idea to boost up-take rethinking the business model.

 

UZE Mobility has a more radical idea to boost up-take of electric vehicles rethinking the business model.

 

UZE Mobility is offering rental of its electric vehicles completely free to users. The company will make its money through selling ad space on digital screens on the vehicles. As they drive around, they’ll also collect city data on road quality, potholes and traffic jams. UZE Mobility plans to sell this data to cities and local authorities to help them improve maintenance more cost-effectively.

 

And these use cases are just for starters.

 

 

Two-sided business model

 

Dr Alexander N. Jablovski, CEO & Founding Partner, UZE Mobility, said: “We looked at electric cars and car-sharing in general and it’s a very one-dimensional business case – transporting people from A to B and getting paid for it. That’s not attractive enough. If you look at electric mobility, there are not a lot of people using it.

 

"We have to be more effective if more people are going to use it. We decided to make this one-dimensional business case cost-neutral, and wrap the digital business cases around the car.”

 

Next month, UZE Mobility will begin a trial of 50 StreetScooter electric vans in Germany’s Rhineland area. Each van will be fitted with an e-ink ‘mobile billboard’ – UZE mobility says the vehicle rental and ads can be booked in just a few clicks.

 

The adverts can be adapted to the vehicle’s precise location as it moves around the city – offering far more flexibility and creative opportunities than a fixed-location digital screen or newspaper advertisement.

 

Dr Jablovski says an airline, for example, could advertise higher-priced flights when an UZE Mobility vehicle was travelling through an affluent area and switch to lower-cost budget trips in a lower-income area.

 

If it starts raining, the ad panel could instantly promote beach holidays or even a nearby shop where umbrellas are on sale.

 

Open ecosystem

 

UZE Mobility describes its technology as an open innovation platform, which will have potentially limitless use cases. Each vehicle will also be equipped with a blockchain-based ‘smart box’, developed by UZE Mobility, to collect driving and environmental data.

 

UZE Mobility describes its technology as an open innovation platform, which will have a potentially limitless use cases.

 

For example, as well as scanning for existing potholes, the vehicles will also assist with predictive maintenance as they drive around the streets repeatedly collecting data and building up a picture over time.

 

UZE Mobility plans to sell this data to cities. Some cities currently monitor streets manually with staff members walking the streets. Using UZE Mobility’s data could be cheaper, more comprehensive and allow staff resources to be better used.

 

Jablovski says: “We are an open ecosystem. We won’t invent all the use cases.”

 

External companies will also be able to pay to use the data and the platform to develop their own tools and solutions.

 

“We are basically growing in two directions,” Jablovski notes, “One direction is geographically. So every [vehicle] we put on the street, gives us a bigger reach and a bigger revenue stream. And then the second thing is technology because with every use case we put on this car, we have another cashflow.”

 

Scaling it up

 

The Uze Mobility ad panel can be integrated into a range of electric vehicles.
The Uze Mobility ad panel can be integrated into a range of electric vehicles.

Following its trial in Rhineland, UZE Mobility plans to roll out an additional 50 vehicles each month from January. Its system can also be integrated into different types of vehicles in other countries.

 

UZE Mobility has further plans to deploy its software and business model on buses, trams and even electric scooters and passenger cars, and has its sights set on scaling fast into the US, Asia and more. It has a target to be in 20 cities by 2022.

 

The company notes that its model could help cities dramatically reduce the cost of public transport for citizens and potentially generate revenue to reinvest into infrastructure at the same time.

 

UZE Mobility closed its pre-seed funding round in October with €2.25 million. Its seed fund round will close early next year, with a target of €10.2 million.

 

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