Q&A with New Zealand’s first electric carshare

Mevo, New Zealand’s first electric carshare, has chosen Vulog as their new generation carsharing technology provider. Starting with more than 50 vehicles in Wellington, Mevo’s mission is to deliver mobility on demand by curating a network of hybrid Audi e-trons that members can pick up and drive as they need them.

We got together with Erik Zydervelt, Founding Director and CEO of MEVO, to ask a few questions:

Can you give us an overview of the carsharing landscape in New Zealand?

When it comes to vehicles, New Zealand’s mentality and our urban form closely resembles a traditional North American market (with the exception of Wellington, which is more European). Currently, carsharing is not common. However, New Zealand moves very quickly once there is a well executed technology offering that makes sense to the mass market, which is what Mevo is seeing now. NZ has seen this many times before with other offerings, such as streaming services Netflix and Spotify, or Uber’s success here, not to mention our uptake of Fibre Optic broadband, the fastest in the western world.

Alongside Mevo, there is currently a rapidly growing peer to peer provider along with one other non-ev traditional provider. As most readers would know, we see private vehicle ownership as our biggest competition to carsharing.

Overall, Kiwis are pragmatic, innovative, and are really excited for carsharing to be a big part of their cities.

Why was the Audi e-tron the best car model for your operation?

We had uncompromising goals for the vehicles that we selected to make up the Mevo network. They had to be safe, environmentally conscious, beautiful (both inside and out) and, above all else, they had to be effortless and fun to drive.

We toyed with some options across a few manufacturers who met some, but never all of those goals. Too often, we found that the models which were environmentally conscious weren’t fun to drive or pleasant to sit in, and the ones with beautiful finishing and a stunning road presence consumed so much fuel that they’d be mind-blowingly expensive to operate.

The Audi A3 e-tron struck a perfect balance between our goals. On cross-city trips, it’s more fuel efficient than the most common conventional hybrids on New Zealand roads, while maintaining the subtle and timeless experience that is synonymous with the Audi brand. Most of all, driving a Mevo Audi A3 is a joyful and elegant experience for our members, rather than just a simple transactional activity.

The Mevo Fleet is built of 100% Audi e-tron

What is your carsharing model (one-way, round-trip, free-floating) and why?

Right now, we operate Mevo as a round-trip service, where our members pick up and drop off their Mevo at one of our home “Pods” (made up of three adjacent vehicles) dotted across the heart of Wellington City. Next year, following a local government policy review, our goal is to expand out to a free-floating network encompassing much of the city, with several additional satellite Mevo Pods covering public transit hubs, points of interest and central suburb areas where our members converge. We’re crowdsourcing suggestions for those areas directly from our members by taking their votes on our locations page.

What is the subscription model (free registration, pricing per minute/hour…)?

Something we found very early on with our customer testing is that our market demands choice, so we built that into our model. Our members can select from either a pay-as-you-go rate or one of two weekly memberships. They can swap between the options as they wish to ensure they’re always getting the best value.

While they’re out on a trip with a Mevo vehicle, we bill one hour up front, and then per minute until they reach a maximum of 6hrs. After 6hrs within a 24hr period, we “cap” the hourly rate, meaning that a Mevo member could pick up a vehicle and have it for a full 24hrs while only paying for 6hrs. Our capped rates are very attractive to our customers, many of whom see the potential value of picking up a vehicle on a Friday evening and not return it until the following Sunday afternoon. We, however, see our longer trips more often at 7–8 hours so the average discount is actually much lower than the perceived value (without limiting it).

Why did you select Vulog as your technology provider?

Like with selecting our vehicles, we had specific goals for our technology partner. The experience from signing up to starting the engine for the first time had to be as easy as possible; the technology had to scale quickly to fit with our very tight timelines. Not only that, but using the app and creating a digital interaction with the Mevo team had to be as effortless and joyful as it was to drive one of our vehicles.

Vulog was the clear technology market leader in the carsharing space for us. They shared our eye for detail and were able to integrate seamlessly with our vehicle partner to create a second to none hybrid digital and physical experience for our members. The stability and granular customization of the app design have allowed us to create a service which rivals our peers internationally, while retaining the essence and personality of our brand.

How will your other partners (the Wellington City Council, energy partner Meridian, Trade Me Insurance and vehicle partner Audi New Zealand) contribute to your project?

Each of our partners comes with years of experience in their sectors and together create a structured network to help deliver the end Mevo experience for our customers. We work collaboratively with them on everything from the design and construction of our chargers to creating new protection products specifically designed for carshare services like us, to our marketing and the placement of our vehicles. There isn’t a Mevo without our partners; we couldn’t be happier to be working with them.

Where do you see Mevo in the next two years?

Simply put: Bigger and better. We see Mevo being ubiquitous with transport in Australasia, and with a connected and autonomous future on the horizon, we’re perfectly primed to make that goal a reality.

Mevo Carsharing launched in Wellington, New Zealand in May 2017;

Photos courtesy of Mevo Carsharing.