European EV rental startup UFODrive launches in San Francisco – TechCrunch


UFODrive, an Europe-based electrical automobile rental firm, landed in San Francisco on Thursday, marking the startup’s enlargement into the U.S.

The startup, which provides customers a simple and contact-free means of renting and subscribing to EVs, involves California at a time when fuel costs are nonetheless extremely excessive at $5.56. Whereas that quantity has dropped in current weeks, it’s nonetheless cresting the nationwide common. Mix that with an ongoing rental automobile scarcity and a cultural zeitgeist that’s embracing all issues electrical, and UFODrive has acquired itself a probably successful product-market match.  

UFODrive’s U.S. launch follows the corporate’s fast progress in 16 cities throughout Europe, together with London, Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam and Dublin since its founding in 2018. The startup can also be planning separate launches for New York and Austin in October.

Different corporations have cropped up all over the world to offer an identical service. For instance, Onto and imove present  month-to-month EV subscriptions within the UK and Norway, respectively. The place UFODrive differs is it provides a mixture of traditional every day or weekly leases and month-to-month subscriptions. That mentioned, the San Francisco launch will initially provide pure leases. 

Bookings might be made on UFODrive’s app, the place every buyer is guided by means of the complete course of – registration, id verification, finding the automobile, harm test, contract signature and driving away, in keeping with Adain McLean, UFODrive’s CEO.  

Clients within the Bay Space can go to one among two automobile bays in downtown San Francisco on both aspect of Market Avenue the place they’ll then use the app to be granted keyless entry to their automobile.

UFODrive labored with Inspiration, the EV asset financing agency that provided New York-based Revel with its personal set of Teslas for ride-hailing functions, to get round 20 Tesla Mannequin 3s and Mannequin Ys on web site for the launch. Because the startup has executed in Europe, UFODrive plans to guide with the dazzle of Tesla for the primary places and develop its vary based mostly on buyer enter and availability, in keeping with McLean, who famous UFODrive can also be trying ahead to together with Ford in that lineup. 

In Europe, the fleet is predominantly made up of Tesla Mannequin 3, Mannequin S and Mannequin Y with Volkswagen ID3, ID4, Hyundai Kona EV, Cupra Born, Polestar, and others, mentioned McLean. 

A software program platform designed to reduce EV angst

a man holds up his phone to unlock a rented tesla via an app

Clients can unlock rented electrical autos through the UFODrive app. Picture Credit score: UFODrive

“One among our greatest issues after we began UFODrive was making folks snug utilizing an EV and minimizing or eradicating anxiousness all through the rental – not simply at pick-up,” McLean informed TechCrunch. “From Day 1, our platform was constructed to determine points earlier than they occur. The group is notified if a buyer hasn’t accomplished any of the pick-up phases, fails to begin the automobile, is driving with a battery degree under 30%, struggling to cost at a station, and many others. In these instances, our group can proactively attain out to ensure the shopper is okay in the event that they haven’t already reached out to us. Because of this we have now by no means had a spread or charging situation in over 20M kms pushed.”

UFODrive’s platform can also be constructed to information drivers to the exit of the bay, route them to the closest charger and stroll them by means of easy methods to cost their automobile. If a buyer is having a problem, they’ll use the app to succeed in out 24/7 to one of many startup’s customer support brokers, who can remotely unlock or change on a automobile, use cameras to test for unreported harm, do system updates, conduct id checks and add drivers, McLean mentioned. 

It’s this software program platform that UFODrive can also be hoping to promote as a SaaS product on the aspect, significantly to legacy rental corporations to assist them transition their renting fashions to EVs. In actual fact, automobile rental big Hertz and travel-focused funding agency Certares led UFODrive’s Collection A in March, signaling the potential for bigger partnerships on this house. Hertz appears significantly eager on making the change to EVs — in October 2021, the corporate mentioned it was investing in a fleet of Teslas and dedicated to providing the most important EV rental fleet in North America.

How does the worth examine?

UFODrive hasn’t posted its charges for San Francisco but, however in Amsterdam, for instance, renting a Tesla from the startup for the weekend might common out round $200, relying on the mannequin. A fast search on Kayak, an aggregator for flights, lodges and automobile leases, exhibits an identical worth level for inside combustion engine autos, and that doesn’t embody the price of fuel or additional drivers. 

UFODrive’s rental costs embody issues like extra drivers, most tolls and free charging, in keeping with McLean. 

“No power price by any means for the rental no matter your mileage or distance,” he mentioned. “It was deal earlier than, however with present fuel costs and worth gouging by legacy rental companies, it’s actually good.”

McLean additionally pointed to UFODrive’s loyalty reward program, which might help carry the prices of leases down.

“As a way to obtain our aim of transitioning folks to sustainable rental, we have now to be aggressive, however the EV mannequin is inherently extra environment friendly so we might be aggressive and worthwhile,” mentioned McLean.

Whereas UFODrive is beginning with a client push, the corporate does envision itself within the long-term being an answer for supply drivers and last-mile transportation, as nicely, in keeping with an organization spokesperson.

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