The new car-sharing platform from Mercedes-Benz, nicknamed “AirBnB for cars” will go online at the start of December.
The company has called the new app “Croove” – it’s a service that pairs up private vehicle owners and hirers. The Croove scheme will be launched in Munich to begin with and is open to any brand of vehicle.
Besides this, the company says the peer-to-peer car-sharing platform is another example of a CASE strategy project that has advanced from idea to implementation. The acronym CASE is the name given to the specific area of strategy at Mercedes?Benz Cars that focuses on the future-oriented issues of “connectivity”, “ autonomous driving”, “sharing” and “electric drive systems”.
“Innovative and flexible mobility services have formed part of the Daimler AG business model/portfolio for a long time now,” the company says in a statement. “As it transforms from premium vehicle manufacturer to mobility provider, the company is continually expanding its range of services. In the process, the focus is being placed more than ever on people and their requirements. By founding the new car-sharing platform Croove, Mercedes-Benz is giving further impetus to the mega trend of the sharing economy that promotes sharing rather than owning. The crucial difference compared with car-sharing models like car2go is that Croove now lets private vehicle owners share their car too.”
“With Croove, both parties stand to benefit. It offers hirers a quick and straightforward means of finding a well-maintained, safe vehicle that suits their mobility requirements, while also offering them greater flexibility than rental stations in fixed locations. They can save money compared with traditional car rental firm rates, and they can also be certain of being given the exact model of car requested rather than any model within a certain category. Owners who rent their vehicle, meanwhile, are able to optimise their car’s rate of usage while earning some extra money at the same time. “On average, a car is parked up for 23 hours a day. Why not make it earn a little money during this time? Car-sharing will be a key element of the mobility concept in tomorrow’s cities,” says Dr Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars.
The company explains that Croove is a smartphone-based platform. The relevant app will be available to download from December from the Apple iTunes store at first. Not long after launch though, there will also be an Android version in the Google Play Store, along with a desktop website for booking a vehicle. Straightforward access and tremendous ease of use are top priorities. Owners create an online profile with the details of their vehicle including any optional equipment and enter their asking price – the app helps them with this, too. Croove can be used for any brand of car, provided that the vehicle is in good condition and no more than 15 years old.
Hirers (minimum age 21, must hold a valid driving licence) simply have to register and then they can contact potential vehicle owners via the app and arrange appointments. When Croove is first launched, it will be possible to either collect the vehicle in person or pay extra for a pickup and delivery service. Consideration is also being given to the idea of introducing a keyless solution in future, which would allow the hirer to collect the vehicle using a PIN code. Owner and hirer inspect the vehicle together when it is collected and returned again in order to check and document its condition. The digital rental contract provided by Croove includes a checklist for this purpose. The app is also used for cashless payment. And it goes without saying that an in-app rating can be given for both parties after a vehicle has been hired, meaning greater transparency and peace of mind.
Daimler says it has more experience in the field of shared mobility than any other automotive manufacturer: in 2008 car2go became the world’s first free-floating car-sharing service and has since built up a global customer base that broke through the two million mark just a short while ago. Meanwhile, the merger of mytaxi and Hailo recently created Europe’s largest app-based taxi booking service with a total of 100,000 drivers.