With car sharing becoming an increasingly popular solution for cities and millennials, automakers are finding new ways to standout in a crowded market.
Last week, David Plouffe, chief strategic adviser of Uber Technologies Inc., announced intentions to create a new market and assist smart cities with developing better transportation systems.
While at a technology forum in Taipei, Plouffe explained that a lot of Uber clients aren’t taxi users, and that the company gives opportunities for drivers to create an extra income for themselves, outside of their main careers.
Plouffe said that ride-sharing is similar to hiring a vehicle with a driver, yet it differs in many ways, too. The legal rules that regulate markets are necessary, and Uber stated it would like to assist government with changing the regulations for ride-sharing and lowering the entry barrier to the ride-sharing market.
This response came after the Taiwanese government repeatedly fined beleaguered Uber for violating regulations on running a transportation business and even contemplated taking away its investment permit. The government also looked into tax evasion accusations against Uber in Taiwan.
Uber Taiwan is currently registered as a software firm, but the government said it wanted to regulate Uber as a transportation company. Minister without Portfolio Andrey Tang, who regulates digital policy, met with Plouffe on November 4th to discuss differing views on transportation networks and regulations that govern ride-sharing services.
Known for his work on President Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, Plouffe said that government leaders should discuss their goals with the public and share how they plan to accomplish them, even though they might experience some negative push back.
He went on to explain that the Taiwanese government must show courage and determination, if Taiwan has goals to build an Asian version of Silicon Valley, develop a ride-sharing economy or have third-party payments.
Plouffe explained that with government bureaucracy playing a larger role, officials need to develop plans and coordinate goals alongside other leaders, in order to accomplish those goals together.
This isn’t Uber’s first flirtation with the idea of smart cities. In May, the company announced a partnership with Maximus Real Estate Partners, to make car-free living easier for the new and existing residents of San Francisco’s Parkmerced community through various programs and incentives. In the midst of rapid urbanization, a generational shift away from car ownership and Uber’s own regulatory controversies, teaming up with governments to expand transportation options seems like the next logical move.
Meanwhile, Nissan is the latest car company to jump onto the sharing economy bandwagon - following in the footsteps of auto giants Ford, GM, BMW and Daimler - this time with a twist on the model, with the launch of the world’s first ‘digitally powered’ car sharing scheme at the Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal.
The new scheme, dubbed Nissan Intelligent Get & Go Micra, plans to use intelligent social-media profile-matching to form car sharing communities, which will part-own a new Nissan Micra. Nissan said they will rely on specially developed algorithms to group owners based on their social profile, location and lifestyle.
“We are moving forward toward a future where car usage may be more flexible, social and shared,” Nissan chief executive Carlos Ghosn said. “At Nissan, we’re pioneering new ways to allow drivers to enjoy the freedom and financial benefits of shared car ownership.”
Under the new model, consumers will share ownership of a new Nissan Micra Acenta 0.90 MT as a group. Each member will have a financial stake in the car and will be billed each month based on their usage, with an annual group mileage limit of 15,000km. The service will launch in Paris later this year, with the first cars slated to hit the roads by April 2017.
A similar program, Audi Unite, is now operating in Stockholm, allowing friends and families to share an Audi via an app, with fuel, insurance, servicing and a monthly valet included in the cost.
However, Nissan is seeking to disrupt the car club model with a new shared ownership approach, which is a major step towards realizing the manufacturer’s Intelligent Mobility vision, a framework for how cars are powered, driven and integrated into society.