Medium to long term prospects for car sharing

RideLink’s CEO, Alexander Stevenson, shares his thoughts on the main trends in the automotive industry and their effect on the growth of car sharing.

As part of our ongoing crowd-funding campaign on Seedrs, I was recently asked to comment on how I see the long term prospects for RideLink and the industry, and I thought the question was important enough to merit sharing with our community as well since our long term success impacts all our community members!

Perhaps unsurprisingly, I think long term prospects for the business are really good. We’re in a large and growing market, with a model that becomes more profitable over time, with an industry full of players and investors looking to fund and support new models. While there’s still lots of work to be done to capitalise on all the opportunities, I think we’re in a great place.

While innovation from new models like RideLink is exciting, more broadly, the entire automotive industry is in a bit of an slow-motion existential crisis as they face a number of emerging realities that become increasingly apparent each passing year:

1. Access over ownership

​​​​​Young people care less and less about owning a car, but rather often just need access. The sense of “freedom” afforded by car ownership in previous generations has largely been replaced by the mobile phone for many people today. The public now often demands the ability to communicate and summon travel, but doesn’t always see the necessity of ownership. And for those who do have to own, they are often acutely aware of the costs and drawbacks of doing so, and seek to mitigate these intelligently.

Result: Fewer people own cars and so use on-demand mobility solutions like RideLink much more often. Those who do own are increasingly willing to share to offset costs.

Kate rents Tom’s Volkswagen whenever she needs it through RideLink

2. Driving is getting safer

Self-driving (autonomous) cars are on their way, but will arrive progressively in the form of ever-safer vehicles with ever-better driver assistance, and add new options for delivery and usage.

Result: Owners will feel ever safer sharing vehicles, and sharing them will become increasingly convenient over time, with features like delivery becoming even easier.

3. Automotive and mobility industries are merging and innovating

Both mobility and automotive are gigantic industries that can’t change overnight, and there are many sub-segments and opportunities for niche targeting of different scenarios. Every existing mobility player, and every automotive company, is currently trying to figure out how they might need to evolve to keep up.

The traditional “everyone owns a car, everyone rents while on vacation” idea of car ownership is already outdated, and changing more every day. Rental is already a multi-billion dollar behemoth, though, and hasn’t been shrinking. Automotive manufacturers are even bigger, and are of course thinking about how to keep up dominance in the face of shifting consumer preference.

Result: RideLink is a great option to add service revenue to existing product businesses, and fits well into a future where people get where they need to go using a flexible patchwork of transportation services.

What these trends mean for our future outlook is that, over time, it’s normal to expect increasing amounts of car sharing. Our business will become more profitable over time, thanks both to scale as well as to technology making driving safer. Lastly, as we succeed, we hope to work alongside the existing automotive industry and other incumbents to help them adapt to the new realities of mobility in 2020–2030.

With huge amounts of both technological and business model innovation under development, one thing is for sure: car sharing and mobility is in for an exciting decade! Myself and the RideLink team are excited to keep working to help you be part of it.

Alexander Stevenson
Founder/CEO, RideLink