BlaBlaCar: ‘As long as there are empty cars, the market won’t be saturated’
French carpooling specialist, BlaBlaCar, has started to make a profit last year, twelve years after its launch. Time for the company to diversify its activity with, among other things, the purchase of the French railways’ Ouibus, a future partnership with the SNCF and the development of the BlablaLines project.
“Today, we count 75 million members in 22 countries. Our major markets are Europe, Russia, Ukraine, Brazil and Mexico. Last year, we made a profit for the first time since 2006”, declares Frédéric Mazzella, co-founder of BlaBlaCar.
Carpooling and buses
Last year, the French company bought Ouibus, the SNCF’s long-distance coach travel company. “When a traveller prepares a 100 km long trip, he often looks at the price, the time and the pick-up and drop-off locations.”
“Our objective is to create a platform that gathers all possibilities in one place. Carpooling or buses. We’re looking into a future partnership with the SNCF”, explains the co-founder.
According to him, buses and carpooling are complementary and there’s no risk of cannibalism. “75% of BlaBlaCar bookings are done less than three days before departure. For buses, it’s the opposite. 63% of bookings are done more than three days before departure.”
“Also, Ouibus does 75% of its activity on the 100 major axes whereas 80% of BlaBlaCar’s activity is done outside this perimeter”, explains Mazzella.
‘Market not saturated’
Yet, the co-founder points out that this purchase and this activity diversification doesn’t mean that the carpooling market is overcrowded. “As long as there are empty cars, the market won’t be saturated. The growth isn’t as quick as before but it’s still there”, he adds.
Brussels is also an important European hub. It’s even the second most important destination from Paris. In average Belgian users hitch a ride for more than 270 km, often crossing the country’s borders.
“We didn’t wait for climate awareness to become a thing to create our business. We were there before. For us it’s logical to fill cars as best as possible to avoid unwanted fuel expenses”, declares Frédéric Mazzella.
According to a study from the French company, its carpooling activity saves the equivalent of Paris’ yearly traffic CO2 emissions.
In addition to the recent coach travel activity, the French carpooling leader is also working on BlaBlaLines. This home to work carpooling activity is still in its test phase.
“As of today, we have 500.000 test users and an important network. We first need to refine the product before investing in its international growth”, explains the co-founder.