Before Maarten began his start-up in the sharing-economy, he provided advice on the rollout of charging equipment for electric cars in cities and municipalities. In this job, he gained valuable insights into promoting new modes of transport. When starting up Tapazz, Maarten wanted to become the 'Airbnb' for cars. The most expensive item owned my most people is usually their house. The second most expensive item is often their car. And this spends most of its life on the street. "We have to do something about that.".
"The second most expensive item owned by most people is the car, and yet it spends most of its life parked on the side of the road. We have to do something about that."
A shared car replaces 12 cars on the street. So these cars do not need to be produced. If people share their car on a neighbourhood level with other people, it strengthens social bonds and people can earn a little money or make significant savings in terms of their mobility expenditure. Cars do not therefore have to be an ongoing expense. With a little care, you could also end up earning money. During its lifetime, a car therefore spends much more time operating as a car, which could thus be categorised under 'material efficiency'. The most appealing sustainability performance, however, is to be found with the end-user and, more specifically, on the demand side of things. At 'Car2Go', the car-share service from the DaimlerChrysler Group, they have calculated that car-sharers drive up to 90% fewer miles per year. This is due to the fact that car-sharers detach themselves from regular, car-based patterns. They think twice about car use and think carefully about whether they actually need a car.
"Car-sharing is also a valuable policy instrument for tackling traffic congestion. The transition potential is therefore huge."
Maarten was determined to create a niche for himself and his start-up in the sharing-economy. In terms of economic, social, commercial and ecological added value, the sustainability potential of car sharing transpired to be most significant. Car sharing is the most rapidly growing mobility mode in the world. Car manufacturers realise this too. In addition, one car in this context can be 'sold' multiple times, when you look at 'kilometres driven'.
The big challenge, however, is how to stimulate as many people as possible to share their cars with one another. We live in a culture where people identify with their cars on an emotional level. There are many rental companies, people are familiar with the government organisation Cambio, but apparently the barrier must be lowered significantly in order for people to relinquish their attachment to their cars.
"Lowering barriers and even offering privileges are the most important service design components for the sharing-economy."
First and foremost, Tapazz reduced all of the financial barriers. There is, therefore, no registration fee or subscription. As the renter, you can enter the system right away and try it out. As the provider of a car, you can also create a free profile, present your car and start renting it out. Only once you begin to earn money as a provider, does Tapazz earn a percentage too. Does your car insurance company not approve of rental or are they going to charge you more? No problem, partner P&V will be happy to take on the task. On the supply side, there are also several intelligent functionalities with respect to matchmaking with drivers, pricing advice, etc.
Today, Tapazz has a pool of 103 cars and over one thousand users. Tapazz began to genuinely grow at the beginning of 2014. This was just before their Smart Phone Application became available. For comparison: Cambio grew to 290 (owned) cars in two years and cost several million in municipal money. The number of users is currently increasing by 10 to 20% per month and the average number of users per shared car is around four.
For the near future, partnerships are the primary driving force. The collaboration with iMinds and Flanders DC creates interesting introductions. Every city or municipality has a mobility policy or even a climate policy. Antwerp, for example, would like to issue parking permits for the entire Antwerp zone if you participate in car sharing. They are not doing so simply on the basis of altruism however. In Antwerp, there are 40% more parking permits than there are parking spaces. With the income, it is expensive to build additional parking spaces. It is therefore economically interesting to provide a favourable framework for car-sharers. The procedure for obtaining a parking space in front of your door also become easier. Ghent and Leuven are both seeking a way to advance new mobility modes. Parking benefits form a great strategy in this context, e.g. the beneficial regime for electric cars in Amsterdam, which allows those who drive electric cars to have a parking space in front of their door with a charging point. After two years, this led to the construction of 10,000 charging points. In Flanders, there is just a fraction of this number.
"At Tapazz, we genuinely believe in the mobility budget as the successor to the company car."
"This would be 120% tax deductible." Companies such as KBC Autolease and SDWorkx are working alongside Tapazz on how they could create an attractive package.
Moreover, the focus in the coming years will lie on expanding name familiarity and further scaling-up. Tapazz also encompasses software and this is a distinct advantage. Furthermore, the promotion of the benefits of car sharing must continue.