Zen Car has to count on companies to stay alive
Recently the sector of (electric) car sharing has been severely shaken by the disappearance of Parisian Autolib’. Brussels Zen Car will survive, but needs the professional world by focusing on B2B to do that, the individual user (B2C) is not enough.
The disappearance of Autolib’ in the French capital has caused some doubts about comparable services in other cities, like Brussels. Apparently there is a growing interest of users, like in Paris, but the financial scheme behind it is a big challenge. In Paris it was a disaster.
100% Belgian company
Zen Car (a 100% Belgian company founded in 2011) is offering the same services as Autolib’ in Paris, but financially it has been independent from the beginning. “I will immediately admit that this isn’t easy at all”, says CEO Serge Starckmann.
“Our fleet is new and runs on a leasing agreement with BMW and Renault. The Bolloré concept of Autolib’ in Paris (with its own cars) was revolutionary but financially unlivable.”
“Only aiming at B2C will never be livable in Belgium”, Starckmann continues. “The costs for infrastructure and deterioration of the car park are too high. We will continue to do so, also because of the necessary visibility, but we have to work with professional companies to have a regular financial income. The private client is very unreliable about his habits and wishes. You can’t survive on this.”
Different cultural habits
He admits that this could also be cultural. The quality of living is still better in Brussels than in other cities, he esteems, so the habit of sharing is not as well-developed as, for example, in Paris or Madrid. That’s why Zen Car puts one or more cars at the disposal of companies, the cars are to be used by the company employees.
By doing so, 40 cars out of a 138 car park are already ‘rented’ to 30 companies in the Brussels area. “By doing this we reckon to be financially profitable in 2019”, concludes Starckmann. This will enable Zen Cars to put 36 new ‘station points’ at the service of private clients. The ‘Zen Cars’ will soon be seen in Waterloo and Braine-l’Alleud (south of Brussels) and later also in Liège.