Zipcar. Interview with European President Frerk-Malte Feller

If in US car sharing equals to “Zipcar“, Europe needs long time to create a common brand. Countries have different business model and brands grow rapidly depending of public funding. With a global strategy the US brand came to Europe since early this year and acquired the Uk car club first, followed by Spain company and Austrian car sharing. European headquarter established in London where the company has just launched the Zipcar for business offer. The company publishes a research into the true cost of transportation to small and medium sized businesses (SMEs), with top findings revealing that company owned vehicles sit idle for a staggering two thirds (63%)1 of business hours per week. The research has been the chance to an interview with Frerk-Malte Feller, President Zipcar Europe.

You are president of Zipcar europe since early 2012  with the goal of reaching the success Zipcar got in US. How do you approach the new challenge in European area after your previous experiences world wide ? I have always been passionate about the role technology plays in society and the impact new and disruptive business models can have on improving the way we do business and live our lives. Zipcar’s large footprint in the US, combined with its cutting edge and scalable technology, means the business is in the perfect position to grow in line with wider macro conditions and evolving consumption habits.

Do you think european culture and attitude towards car could be a risk for car sharing development? Car sharing originated in Europe and as such many countries within Europe are familiar and comfortable with the concept. To me, car sharing is all about forming part of a smarter transportation system  in urban centres, complementing public transport and reducing congestion to take cars off the road.

European Car sharing market is very fragmented, countries have different car sharing schemes, some of them public owned, some of them private, others electric.. how would you position Zipcar in this kind of “competition”? With over 13 years in the market, Zipcar has both the technology platform and the logistical know how to make car sharing both scaleable and convenient across different markets. Whether you are in Miami, London or Barcelona, our members will have the same simple experience of booking and driving a car.

How are you integrating different operations from acquired company around Europe? (Spain, Uk and Austria) We have recently launched our new global technology platform, designed to support mulit-language capabilities and enhance scalability to improve speed to market with future international expansion. We have recently completed integration in Spain – You can view the full press release here.

Last Zipcar research addresses SME and business users. Is it a strategy to approach new customers facing the international economical crisis ? Zipcar for Business is one of the fastest growing areas of our business in the UK. With new research revealing that 63 per cent of company cars are idle the majority of the working week, we are working hard to educate small businesses on both the cost savings and added convenience of switching to a more flexible ‘pay-per-use’ model.

Any remarks after almost 1 year in Zipcar?  I am very excited about the opportunity ahead.  Car sharing has really only scratched the surface, and has a bright future ahead.  Technology is a key driver for growth in this market and smartphones in particular are allowing for rapid innovation.  Over the coming years, the impact that car sharing can have on city livability is remarkable.

Which countries will you look after in the next period? what about italy? Our primary focus today lies on streamlining and growing our operations in the UK, Spain and Austria.  As we have previously outlined, we are at the same time planning to expand the business further across the continent.  For Italy, we have no concrete plans to announce at this time.

thanks to Jenny Summer from Zipcar

Italian news on zipcar for Business available at International Business Times Magazine

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