PSA sees Free2Move as an essential element in its mobility strategy and a first step into the US market (with MaaS rather than actual vehicle sales)
Newly enlarged Groupe PSA faces challenges on a number of fronts as it looks to integrate Opel and Vauxhall to its operations. Like other OEMs, it also needs a strategy for a rapidly changing urban mobility landscape. Chris Wright was in Paris to hear more.
Aggregation is a key word in PSA Group’s new wide-ranging global mobility strategy which covers everything from buying a new or used car, through repairs and fleet management to mobility services which include car, bike and scooter sharing.
PSA is not limiting its strategy to its own products. Its mobility service Free2Move, used car and vehicle repair apps are open to other brands and independent businesses. To help achieve this, the group has been sweeping up new partners and start-ups.
With the Carventura.com and Aramisauto.com platforms PSA is tapping into a massive 150m global used car market. It is a multi-brand, multi-channel online platform that is able to manage the customer-to-customer transactions that make up more than 50% of the market.
Frederick Lecroat, chief executive of Carventura.com said the aim is to give people security and confidence. The service provides:
- Advice on the value of a vehicle
- Pre-sale inspection
- Six month warranty
- All the paperwork
- Home delivery
- Secure payments
Marc Lechantre, PSA senior vice president for used car business said the service is already available in France and will now be rolled out across Europe and eventually globally. “China is a priority and so is Latin America. Brazil is in the top three used car markets in the world.”
MisterAuto.com and the auto repair shop on the online quote platform, Autobutler.fr, give PSA access to an international network of more than 3,000 garages maintaining vehicles of all brands.
Auto repair shops will be able to browse the best selection of replacement parts onthe market for all brands through PSA’s new retail brand, DISTRIGO.
Autobutler is an app designed to shift power from the companies to the consumers. It was started in 2016 by Peter Zigler with the aim of getting better vehicle repair services by effectively putting the jobs out to auction – finding the right part and the best repairer online.
Zigler said: “The hardest part has been changing the mindset of the old established mechanics. The app allows people to post theirproblem and the repairers can then come back with a price and timescale. This way the customers shops around for the best price while the benefit for the repairer is that they can reach customers from further afield who they otherwise might not get.
“There has been some reluctance from repairers but we are trying to change what has been happening for decades.” PSA dealers and authorised repairers are allowed to bid although aftermarket chief Christophe Musy said it was important that the site remains impartial.
A vital part of the mobility strategy is Free2Move. It is not just a mobility app, it spearheads PSA’s return to the US market where it has been launched in Seattle and is being rolled out across the country. The app covers car-sharing as well as motorised scooters and bikes. Brigitte Courthoux, senior Vice President for connected services and new mobility, said it already has 1.5m customers. The app lets them know where the nearest ride-share car, bike or scooter is located and again covers other brand apps, such as Daimler’s Car2Go.
She added: “It is a service that allows people to move around and we are looking at the mobility space as a big opportunity in Europe and the US.”
Will this disruption eventually mean the end of car ownership as we know it, or, indeed, the car rental business?
“The reality is that we will still sell cars, people still want freedom and many will still want to own their own vehicle.”
Courthoux said: “The reality is that we will still sell cars, people still want freedom and many will still want to own their own vehicle. There will still be rental fleets, after all, car-sharing is a form of vehicle rental. But lifestyles are changing and mobility is evolving every day.”
Currently public transport as an alternative is not available on the app but she added there are plans to add this later.
Central to all of these solutions is digital technology, which makes it possible to deliver new services adapted to individual needs in line with usage patterns. With cars becoming part of the Internet of Things (IoT) there is a requirement to organise and manage car data security.
PSA is developing a global IoT platform in partnership with Huawei, one of the world leaders in information and communication technologies, whose expertise will ensure compliance with the highest regulatory and data security standards.
The new platform, known as the Connected Vehicle Modular Platform (CVMP), will ensure that all digital interactions between the car and the cloud are managed securely while at the same time guaranteeing data integrity, authenticity and confidentiality.
CVMP will make it possible to introduce new services such as remote on-demand car diagnostics and remote control solutions such as battery charging and pre-heating; over-the-air car software updates, traffic information and navigation; car-sharing and corporate fleet management; and customised on-board services such as personal assistant solutions.
The first applications of the new platform will be launched for customers in Europe and China in 2018 and subsequently in the rest of the world. New services adjusted to customer needs will be rolled out gradually.