How Next Generation Ridehaling Businesses Compete and Win
February 3, 2020 | Company Blog
In the first few years of the ridehailing revolution, pioneers Uber and Lyft seemed invincible, with hockey-stick growth rates and valuations, and a fanatic customer base delighted by the convenience and affordability of their services. Cracks, though, have begun to appear in the businesses as traffic has soared due to the volume of empty vehicles vying for riders and city centers. Even more concerning has been documented assaults by drivers. Those cracks have grown into opportunities that other service providers are exploiting to offer competitive, differentiated services.
When Will Coleman, founder of ridehailing start-up Alto, told his future business partner that he was starting a company that would compete with the peer-to-peer giants, she said he was “crazy.” In fact, that was a frequent response Coleman received when he shared his idea.
Two years later and Alto is thriving in its initial location of Dallas, Texas. Coleman saw what others didn’t — gaps in traditional peer-to-peer ridehailing businesses that deterred some demographics from using the services. It turns out women were half as likely to hire peer-to-peer rides out of concern for safety, reliability, and comfort.
Alto uses professional drivers that go through extensive background checks and safety, and a fleet of bespoke Buick Encores that subscribers can personalize by selecting the music, temperature, lighting, and driver engagement that suits them. It’s a premium service for travelers that are willing to pay a little more in exchange for what Alto calls an “elevated experience.”
In just over a year, Alto has more than 6,000 subscribers and more ad hoc riders that pay a slightly higher price. One reviewer examined the gamble travelers take with peer-to-peer ridehailing, risking bad drivers, dirty cars, and the threat of assault. “Alto helps eliminate that uncertainty,” she said. “For me, that’s almost always going to be worth it.”
Alto started in late 2018 and has delivered 100,000 rides since, and has announced plans to expand into more metro areas in Texas and California.
Meanwhile, in Neustadt, Germany, Mobility-on-Demand has launched a micro-transit service that uses private ridehailing-like cars to augment the public transit system, eyeing mid-sized cities that lack robust public networks and high enough demand to attract the peer-to-peer giants. Neustadt has plenty of traffic woes, and Mobility-on-Demand is out to take cars off the street by offering a shared service that can be as convenient as driving.
The company has the support of The Federal Ministry of Transport and the Neustadt Inner City Advisory Board. Cities like Neustadt don’t want to be left behind as new mobility models emerge.
“Mobility-on-Demand aims to sustainably improve the quality of life in small and medium-sized towns,” the company said. “In addition, we offer an improved mobility offer at lower costs, which generates fewer traffic jams, reduces noise, and improves the quality of the air by using electric vehicles.”
That’s right, Mobility-on-Demand’s fleet is all-electric and, more specifically, all-Tesla. Like Alto, Mobility on Demand appeals to riders’ desires for safety and for a consistent vehicle experience, using Teslas with their advanced driver assistance features, with professional safety drivers on board as an added layer of protection. The electric fleet gives customers the added benefit of reduced emissions and a quieter ride. Mobility on Demand encourages pooled rides but also offers single rider trips with prebooking available.
Both Alto and Mobility-on-Demand use Bestmile’s Fleet Orchestration Platform to ensure vehicles are fully utilized while meeting service level requirements. Unlike peer-to-peer businesses that pay nothing when a vehicle empty, ridehailing services that own their cars and pay drivers by the hour need to make every mile/km count. The Bestmile Platform uses advanced dispatching, ride matching, pooling, and routing algorithms to minimize those empty miles while ensuring convenience requirements are also met.
The precision provided by the Bestmile Platform also enables ridehailing businesses to offer predictable ride times and wait times. Because the Bestmile Platform supports autonomous and human-driven vehicles, both companies are positioned to shift to autonomous vehicles and services when technology and regulations allow. Finally, the Bestmile solution includes traveler, driver, and safety driver apps and can integrate operator or custom apps as well, and a dashboard for fleet configuration and monitoring.
Alto and Mobility-on-Demand are competing with differentiated offerings, building their services around their target markets’ needs and preferences. Safety, reliability, predictability, personalization — these are some of the qualities the businesses are betting on. The Bestmile Platform enables this differentiation by providing a foundation on which mobility providers can build services tailored to their markets and business models, carefully controlling key metrics like vehicle and/or driver utilization with ensured service levels.