Driving Like a Roman

By: Fernando Saenz, Javier Ortega-Araiza.

The mobility sector has been one of the most disrupted by the sharing economy. Considering that we have more than one billion cars currently circling the world’s streets, we can certainly understand why it is one of the hottest sectors to get into. This has caught the attention of disruptive entrepreneurs but also of many multinational corporations, as Beth Gardiner from the New York Times mentions: “Instead of letting the popularity of car-sharing disrupt their business, they are joining in, and even taking the lead, with their own new ventures in the hopes of holding onto existing customers and connecting with future ones”.

One of the corporations that has successfully seized this opportunity is Eni, one of the largest conglomerates in Europe that operates in the energy and oil sectors. The Italian-based company is constantly transforming and evolving the marketplace, becoming more efficient and at the same time more conscious and respectful towards the environment. One of their current initiatives is Enjoy, a car sharing app which originally started with the purpose of moving Eni’s personnel to and from work, to prevent the strains and delays caused from the constant strikes of the public transportation service in Italy’s main cities. The service proved to be an efficient and outstanding mobility alternative, which powered Eni to open it up for everyone, enabling people in Milan, Turin, Rome, and Florence to access a car on-demand for their transportation needs. Throughout these cities, Eni has a fleet of 1100 Fiat 500 (Cinquecento) vehicles, as well as a fleet of Piaggio Mp3 Scooters active in Milan.

So how does the service works? After downloading the app, the user is able to see the nearest car available to its current location, each of which has a color indicator: Green meaning the car is free, Yellow meaning that is booked and Red meaning that the car is currently busy. The meter rate starts to run after the user books the car, with the first 15 minutes being free to allow users to get to the car without any additional cost. In case that it takes them longer, there is a charge of .10 EUR (10 Euro Cents) per minute, which increases to .25 EUR (25 Euro Cents) per minute once users have unlocked the doors and start driving. If the user parks and keeps the car reserved, the charge goes back to .10 EUR (10 Euro Cents per minute). If the driver expects to use the car for a longer amount of time, Eni offers the option of renting it for 24 consecutive hours for 60 EUR. To complement its service, Eni offers special parking in airports and main landmarks.

Eni’s service comes as a great fit for a country where the population density is 203 per Km2 (527 people per square mile), providing an effective solution particularly in crowded cities such as Rome, where besides mass urbanization there are significant public transportation inefficiencies from its local system ATAC that cause continuous headaches to its inhabitants. In addition, by selecting the iconic Fiat 500 as the main component of its fleet, Enjoy adds a symbolic component to its service that is also likely to attract tourists to drive an quintessential Italian car through the cobbled historic Roman streets. This emblematic addition can come as a great differentiating factor in a country that is becoming a hotspot of the carsharing phenomenon, with other companies such as Car2Go (Powered by automotive behemoth Daimler), and SharenGo (which only uses electric cars) also pushing to become leaders in a growing market. As of now, there are more than 500,000 registered users in car-sharing platforms in Italy who actively rely on them to do their day-to-day activities, with the highest concentration being in Milan that has 350,000 users and 2,600 vehicles available for car-sharing, making it one of the sharing mobility hubs in Europe.

As urban European centres become more crowded and the need to take cars out of the road expands, the car sharing sensation is expected to continuously grow and expand to new horizons, actively transforming the way people move by providing a sustainable and efficient transportation solution that helps us to take better care of the environment, and with the added bonus that now every visitor can drive an iconic Italian car on their next visit to the Eternal City.

Originally published at www.redefiningcapitalism.com on February 17, 2016.

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