Japanese conglomerate Sumitomo that does everything from mining to managing grocery stores is taking on a new venture, electric car sharing. Not only is this a new field for them, the Tokyo-based company also chose one of the world’s toughest sharing markets – Sweden.
Sumitomo is coming to Stockholm to be precise, where they plan to install their aimo electric car sharing service on October, 31. It is Halloween and also the day on which BMW will pull out their DriveNow service for good after disappointing results and higher costs than expected.
BMW are not the only ones that had to give up Stockholm. Daimler’s Car2Go left after a a brief stunt in 2016 and Audi never made it further than the pilot phase. Still Sumitomo is convinced they will make it. Bloomberg quotes Yuichi Ono, a Sumitomo manager overseeing the project saying “the reason the others failed is that they went about it the wrong way, not because Stockholm is not a good place for car sharing”.
Sumitomo sees their advantage mainly in not being a carmaker and thus not being reliant on promoting their own model. Instead their focus will be on electric driving as offered by the Renault Zoe. Moreover, they want to keep the offer simple with access via app and only one payment plan.
But there are other reasons for Stockholm being a tricky market so that manager Ono may be both right and perhaps mistaken at the same time. Indeed the Swedish capital has all the ingredients one can wish for when launching a car sharing. The populace is young, tech-savvy and mobile and the country is eager to promote environmentally friendly transport. But this is also why there is a strong car sharing player established in Stockholm already: Volvo’s Sunfleet.
Sunfleet is a traditional rental service and has grown its base to 1,500 vehicles in 50 cities nationwide, and around 76,000 registered users since 1998. While they require users to reserve and drop off their car at designated locations just like Hertz and the like, they are undergoing major modernisation. Soon they will be known as M and then incorporate artificial intelligence.
Still, Sumitomo’s aimo may have a chance. First, they have the added benefit of using electric cars only. Secondly, they allow for free floating and easy app-booking and thirdly, some of the 32,000 abandoned DriveNow users may migrate.
Sumitomo is aiming to launch a fleet of 300 Renault Zoe this November and to have 50,000 users in Sweden by 2020. And, once their electric car sharing works out, they are ready to expand. Lycka till!