Timo Buetefisch (Hannover, 1974) has more than 15,000 rental motorcycles distributed among the five cities where his company operates – Lisbon, Rome, Milan, Barcelona and Madrid – but he reserves a Cabify to go to the airport. The CEO of Cooltra is convinced that neither Uber nor the companies that bet on car sharing represent any kind of competition for him. Not in vain has just launched a joint promotion with Emov. "We are all going the same way: we design models so that there are fewer vehicles owned," he argues. "Their services are complementary to ours."
When Buetefisch founded Cooltra, 12 years agoHe was not aware of the scope of the project he was embarking on. The company that runs has 530 employees and invoices 30 million euros between its three business areas. The best known, the eCooltra motorcycle rental service per minute, is one of the first brands that comes to mind from anyone who starts a conversation about new mobility solutions.
The pay-per-use model managed by eCooltra has penetrated strongly into the current scenario and is part of the essence of shared vehicles, but the German entrepreneur discovers that this feature will define the transport of the future. "There are gyms that have a business model similar to ours in this sense, but there are also others that offer a subscription model," he compares. "The important thing in any sector is to have some flexibility and offer the different models that customers want."
Electric is another of the adjectives that have different alternatives in common sharing and one of the points where the manager insists the most. "The public administration is very in favor of our service because we are a sustainable solution. In addition, they love the potential we have to reduce the number of vehicles in cities with a shared fleet. " Buetefisch regrets the limited development of electric means of transport of particular use in Spain and attributes this delay to a question of purchasing power. "In some richer countries, like the Scandinavians, people are more willing to pay a premium for sustainability."
The care of the environment is one of the main flags that fly the new mobility companies and it serves to defend them from the main criticism they raise for their impact on society: the use they make of public space. Under the pretext that the parking of cars and shared bikes works in a similar way to that of their private counterparts, the responsible of Cooltra does not make sense to the regulation of the number of vehicles in a fleet, but to their behavior. "The authorities must ensure that the service offered by each operator follows a minimum," he explains. The question changes when we talk about other means of transport. "The controversy is served with bicycles and scooters, because they occupy the public space. Sooner or later, the City Councils will regulate it. "
But are you all in favor of regulating it? The lack of common regulations for shared mobility solutions entails a fragmentation that makes it difficult for these companies to expand internationally. "The City Councils are afraid of regulating in the wrong way," says Buetefisch. "When we advance in this line we will see a consolidation of the market, because the companies in our sector need a large fleet and a strong base of users to survive. It is a highly financial business. "
The German looks to the future with optimism and imagines a shared and sustainable mobility, with cities that close their centers to large transports in which deliveries are made by means of electrical solutions. Calculate that in less than a decade the vehicle in property will not be the norm, but the exception. "In Germany, almost half of the cars that leave the factory are sold to operators and leasing companies. And this is only the beginning".
City Councils are afraid to regulate in the wrong way
He does not lack reason. Some manufacturers have taken the next step and have begun to invest in platforms. Seat has acquired Respiro, Renault has made Zity possible, the Daimler group is the matrix of Car2Go, Peugeot and Citröen are behind Emov … Not to mention other actors such as Google and Facebook, who also do not want to miss the opportunity. "The sector poses a very positive scenario, because it promotes a vehicle with fewer emissions and less fixed costs for the user. Obviously, it is not a safe bet, because the disruption depends on regulations that are to come, but, in the long run, the change will be for the better, "he predicts.