Features
11 Dec 20

Major MaaS player set for European expansion

Business travellers need one application to go from office to office, city to city, country to country, says Justin Whitston, CEO of Fleetondemand.

One of the world’s fastest growing Mobility as a Service platforms has ambitious plans to launch across Europe in 2021. UK-based Fleetondemand and its mobility platform Mobilleo will open in France, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Czech Republic and The Netherlands next year, and already has a dozen European projects underway; five with cities, two with vehicle manufacturers and the remaining seven with large corporate fleets, as well as rental and leasing companies.

Last month Toyota’s mobility services operation, Kinto, selected the Mobilleo MaaS platform to power its mobility solution in the UK, bringing together thousands of car hire firms, car clubs, taxis, buses, on-demand shuttles, trains, trams, flights, ferries and bike sharing into a single application. Expanding into the wider travel arena, Kinto customers can even find and book hotels and parking, and then pay for their entire trip in seconds.

In Greater Manchester and the Highlands and Islands of Scotland the Mobilleo platform provides a white label solution for local authorities to deliver MaaS schemes to private travellers, offering access to buses, trains, car hire, car clubs, bicycle hire, air travel and ferries via an iOS or Android app that includes the facility to plan, book and pay for multi-modal journeys.

In 2019 the Mobilleo platform made 511,000 bookings and reservations in the UK alone, with the figures set to grow exponentially as demand for MaaS solutions rises.

The business started life as the mobility platform for Fleetondemand, a car and van rental aggregator that connects global and local hire companies into a single service. Among its 464 integrated suppliers are all the household name rental firms, including Avis, Europcar, Enterprise, Hertz and Sixt.

Multi-modal transport

But right from the outset the company focused beyond vehicle rental, bringing together a wide variety of travel options into its platform.

“We started with car hire, but immediately saw the exponential global opportunity to connect into all other forms of transport,” said Justin Whitston, Fleetondemand’s CEO and founder (pictured above). “As a business traveller you need one application to go from office to office, city to city, country to country, not a MaaS solution in one urban area and a different MaaS in another. It has to be one application for everywhere.”

The technological challenges of delivering this are enormous, dealing with transport providers’ legacy IT systems, building a booking and billing engine and integrating APIs, but key to the company’s success is winning the support of suppliers via the role it has chosen to play in the supply chain.

“We are not trying to generate a margin between the supplier and end user,” said Whitston. “Plus, we give brand visibility to every transport provider, which they like.”

The company’s revenues and profits are generated from corporate customers paying for the service as a Business MaaS (BMaaS) solution (it has 246 direct corporate customers in the UK), and from third party clients licensing its platform as a white label solution to power their own mobility products. Whitston is discreet in naming customers publicly, but many of Europe’s largest rental and leasing firms are clients, as well as OEMs.

Fleets can keep current suppliers 

Moreover, the flexibility of Mobilleo means corporate customers and fleets can bring their incumbent suppliers onto the platform, where they can feature alongside other links in the transport chain. Likewise, cities can integrate their public transport operations with alternative travel options.

For cost-conscious procurement and finance departments, this MaaS approach brings absolute transparency to the door-to-door cost of business travel – not simply the price of a train ticket or flight, but also the taxi to the station or parking at the airport plus, for example, a ride hailing trip at the destination.

Such granular detail will be vital as employers seek to monitor and control expenditure with the introduction of mobility budgets, although Whitston still sees a future for the company car.

“We work with clients to identify the ideal MaaS model within their fleet or business,” he said. “It could be as simple as offering car hire, a car club and taxis, which is very different from calculating a total mobility budget. You have to identify the right solution for each community – MaaS may be perfect for urban dwellers, but staff based in smaller towns and rural areas may still need a car or company car.”

The level of data and detail recorded by Mobilleo suggests that early MaaS adopters will select pay-as-you-go rather than subscription-based offers, according to Whitston.

“Where is the value in subscriptions?” he asks. “What am I paying for if I don’t use it, especially because travel plans get interrupted so often? Pay-as-you-go is the number one trend, and once you have the data that shows patterns of use, maybe subscriptions will grow.”

There is much more certainty in the administrative efficiency of generating a single, itemised invoice for a journey, rather than reconciling multiple receipts for parking, train and taxis etcetera. And surely every traveller would appreciate the ease and simplicity of having all their journey planning, purchasing and tickets delivered via a single app on their smartphone.

Authored by: Jonathan Manning