Traffic jams and lack of parking places, environmental concerns and other financial priorities: there are many reasons why residents in big cities decide not to invest in a car of their own. Nevertheless, sometimes a car is very useful and car sharing is becoming increasingly popular. “We are at the beginning of a mobility revolution, made possible by new technologies,” says Mauro Mariani, founder and CEO of ExaMotive. “We use state-of-the-art technology to offer a solution that meets different user needs, from making a quick journey in the city to going on a road trip for a week or two.”
Close, fast, flexible
ExaMotive’s car sharing solution Oply is built on a technical platform designed and developed by the company’s Luxembourg-based IT team. Clients register via an app on their mobile phone that instantly validates their driver’s licence and credit card details. “The whole process from discovering the Oply concept to sitting behind the steering wheel can take as little as five minutes,” says Mr Mariani. The app captures your geographical position and shows you where the nearest car is located. “We have divided the cities where we operate into neighbourhoods. Each car belongs to the neighbourhood where you pick it up and has to be left in the same area. The app tells you when you are back in the neighbourhood so that you can locate a parking spot and close your transaction.”
We are at the beginning of a mobility revolution.
The start-up has analysed a variety of use cases from people’s everyday lives and developed a solution aimed at covering a wide range of cases. The fleet includes four types of cars: small city cars, family cars equipped with baby seats, sports cars and vans. The “Flex” scheme allows clients to spontaneously pick up a car and use it for up to 12 hours, while it is possible to pre-reserve a car with the “Plan” scheme and use it for a maximum of 27 days. “We cover the same market as traditional car sharing companies, but also venture into that of rental companies with a much better user experience,” Mr Mariani points out.
From Luxembourg to Europe
ExaMotive was created in early 2016 and was located for a year at the incubator Technoport before outgrowing the premises on offer there. Today it has a staff of 15 at the Luxembourg headquarters and another 20 in Berlin. Germany is its first target market. ExaMotive launched Oply in Munich in March 2018, and the initial fleet of 100 cars quickly had to be extended by another 30 as it proved to be an instant success. This was followed by Hamburg in October and Berlin last week. “Germany is the biggest and most mature car sharing market in Europe, and as we also know it very well it was natural to start there,” says Mr Mariani. “We will soon be present in yet another market, and our vision is to become a leading mobility solution across Europe.”
Luxembourg is very international, so it is a great environment for building up an international team.
Although the Luxembourg car sharing market is too small to be of any interest, the headquarters will remain here. “Our goal is to be multimarket, and the fact that there is no local market for us here actually helps us not to get too focused on a single place,” he says. “Being based in Luxembourg also gives us more commercial neutrality than if we were located in one main market and then trying to break into another one as a foreign company. In addition, the country is very international, so it is a great environment for building up an international team.”
Major investment round
The company is a member of the Luxembourg AutoMobility Cluster that is managed by the national innovation agency Luxinnovation. Well aware of the start-up’s ambitions and need for new capital, the cluster manager introduced ExaMotive to the Luxembourg branch of SAIC, the world’s 7th largest car manufacturer that sought to be part of the smart mobility movement. The result of this extremely fruitful contact was that SAIC invested €25 million in ExaMotive two years ago in what Mr Mariani thinks was “probably one of the biggest series A financing rounds in 2017 world-wide”.
However, ExaMotive remains an independent company and intends to stay at the forefront of mobility innovation. The company collaborates with the University of Luxembourg, the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) and other players on various projects, including a major Horizon 2020-funded project on the impact of connected and autonomous driving. “We always have to innovate,” Mr Mariani underlines. “We have had a person leading our innovation efforts virtually from day one, and we also work with PhD students. Our aim is to stay part of the community interested in and involved in building the mobility solutions of the future.”
Photo credit: ExaMotive