The rise and rise of carsharing is a relatively easy trend to explain: For people who live in densely-populated urban areas, owning a car is a royal pain in the backside; particularly when you don’t even need one most of the time. Thus, joining a carsharing scheme and having access to a nearby car as and when you do need it is an ideal solution.
Berlin is the perfect usecase for carsharing; a city where excellent public transport (yes, it is excellent, comparatively) and an upwardly mobile population mean large numbers of people are content to do away with their own vehicle.
And they are not spoiled for choice: There is Car2Go (Smart), Multicity (Citroen) and the big dog, DriveNow (BMW and Sixt), and that’s just from the carmakers (Volkswagen’s Quicar is set to launch in the capital soon as well). Smaller ventures like Berlin-based CiteeCar are also in the market.
Now Audi is throwing its hat into the ring – but instead of the casual user, it’s going after the company car market. Dubbed Audi shared fleet, the project is aimed at companies which want a more flexible solution to meeting their fleet needs. They can pick the number and kind of cars they want, and the vehicles will be made available for both official company use and private use by employees.
User companies can offer incentives to employees in the form of vacation packages, for example to use a car on the weekend, and can pay either per use or on a fixed monthly lease basis. Audi is offering an online booking platform, digital logbook, regular cleaning and refueling and automated billing.
The service is being launched Germany-wide on Thursday, October 30, but the carmaker is clearly anxious to win over the people most likely to adopt it first – and where better to start than with Berlin’s tech scene? To that end, Audi has done a deal with the Factory with four cars based at the main building on offer for all employees working out of the startup hub.
To celebrate the launch of Audi shared fleet, the Factory is throwing a party on Thursday evening featuring some of Berlin’s best street-food stands and drinks provided by Cookies. You can get your free ticket here.
It’s an interesting approach from Audi to break into what, astonishingly, is already a crowded market, and one which certainly makes a lot of sense for startups – or at least, startups which have regular need for employees to drive around town.