Award-winning French logistics innovator Expedicar is coming to Belgium
Last month, the Automobile Club de France awarded Expedicar the Grand Prix for automotive startups. By the end of this year, the company will expand into Belgium. What’s the secret of their success? “E-commerce without logistics is nothing,” says Claire Cano-Houllier (pictured), Expedicar’s co-CEO.
“Even five years ago, the thought of buying a car online sounded crazy. That’s changing fast. But that change needs to be backed up by more agile logistics,” says Ms. Cano-Houllier. And that’s exactly what Expedicar does.
“We’ve built an innovative logistics platform that offers a flexible and easy way to move cars. Plus, we’ve created a network of around 800 professional drivers who can provide that service. If you want a car moved from A to B anywhere in France, we can do it within 48 hours.”
Founded in 2015, Expedicar has grown very fast. It expects to move around 50,000 cars this year. The company has four types of corporate customers:
- rental car companies (including Avis, Hertz and Europcar),
- lease companies (Arval, Parcours, LeasePlan),
- vehicle dealerships (independents and captives, plus online players like Aramisauto) and
- large corporate fleets.
“Our system of driver-based delivery makes it possible for us to deliver a company car from the lease company to the end user at home – and even provide a demonstration,” says Ms Cano-Houllier.
The state of the vehicle, the fuel level and other specifics are recorded at pickup and presented to the end user for sign-off. “Such proof of delivery is very important from a fleet management perspective.”
Of course, Expedicar can relocate cars at other moments of a contract – while it’s still running (for example when fleet managers need to move a large number of vehicles to a new project site), or when it’s ending. “We are also part of the de-fleeting process and the remarketing chain. We drive cars straight from lease company compounds to the reseller of the car,” says Ms Cano-Houllier. “In fact, we recently started working with (vehicle auctioneers) BCA and Alcopa.”
Expedicar customers (and end users) can already track the progress of the vehicle in delivery, but the location-to-location system will soon be updated to one that offers continuous live tracking. More precise, and more satisfying to follow: “We’ve been inspired by the high standard of work in the parcel delivery industry,” says Ms Cano-Houllier.
Expedicar’s own high standards belie its almost accidental beginnings: “The idea came to us during a stay in New Zealand. There, we saw car rental offers for the equivalent of one euro – if you drove the car from one specific place to another. We wanted to see if that would work in France. So in 2013, we founded what became LuckyLoc.”
LuckyLoc offers cheap car rentals, with fixed starting points and destinations. The company, which is aimed at consumer-drivers, is thriving and still growing. But soon, it started getting questions for a more structured approach, and professional drivers. Which is how Expedicar came about. But the two companies remain linked. “If you want to move your car, we give you the choice between a professional driver or a private individual. The second option is cheaper.”
Last month’s Grand Prix, awarded by Automobile Club de France, is a big deal for the logistics startup, Ms Cano-Houllier says. “The ACF is one of the oldest gentlemen’s clubs in France and a very venerable institution. The Peugeot family is among its founders, to give just one example. But even though they’re very old-world, they reach out each year to the new world, via this award for startups.”
The jury – which included Renault CEO Thierry Bolloré and Frédéric Mazzella, one of the founders of BlaBlaCar – was impressed by Expedicar’s take on simplifying the logistics of car delivery. More than just an honorific, the award came with €25,000 in prize money and coaching sessions by industry experts. Which will come in handy for Expedicar’s continuing expansion.
“We aim to be an all-inclusive tool. Very soon, we’ll start offering integrated transport via trucks. This way, our corporate customers can aggregate and consolidate all the logistical movements of their fleets with us. Also, by the end of the year we will be launching our services in Belgium. It has a very dynamic leasing market, which interests us a lot. Plus, quite a few of our French customers have subsidiaries in Belgium. We haven’t officially considered other countries yet, but the Netherlands seems like a logical next step.”
Image: Thomas Raffoux