monday, 12 september of 2016

Peugeot plans direct competitor to Uber

Peugeot plans to launch its own standalone vehicle service to rival Uber within the next three years — in a stark rejection of the car-hailing collaborations that other manufacturers have agreed.

Larger rivals to the French carmaker — such as Toyota, General Motors and Volkswagen — have been entering partnerships with various car-hailing technology groups, such as Uber, Lyft and Gett.

But Carlos Tavares, chief executive of PSA group, warned that such a move for Peugeot would be “dangerous”, as it removes the contact between carmakers and the consumers who will travel in their vehicles.

Now the company — which he says has recovered from a “near-death experience” after nearly facing bankruptcy two years ago — aims to establish a service to rival the smartphone apps that can give consumers access to a car or driver at short notice.

PSA has already set aside €100m to invest in start-up companies working on transport innovations, ranging from car sharing and hailing to car-ownership clubs.

This month, the group will unveil a second tranche of investments at the Paris Motor Show.

PSA’s vehicle service, once launched, may operate under a new brand rather than the Peugeot, Citroen or DS marques currently used by the group.

It will also be launched in the US market before PSA resumes its core business of selling cars to consumers there.

This focus on “mobility” services is one of the pillars of the company’s strategy to grow in the future, as it recovers after a €3bn bailout by the French state and China’s Dongfeng.

“We would like to envisage that, under a brand name that I don’t even know yet, we will become your life-long mobility partner,” said Mr Tavares. “It doesn’t have to be an automotive brand.”

Carmakers globally have been grappling with the idea that hailing services will make people less inclined to buy their own vehicles.

By teaming up with Uber or Lyft, several carmakers have been positioning themselves to sell vehicles to those companies, shoring up a source of sales for the long term.

But Mr Tavares said that bulk sales deals would push down prices and put power in the hands of the technology groups, reducing the car manufacturers to mere providers of “hardware”.

“It would be for us dangerous not to be in contact on the front line with the consumer,” he warned.

He added that there will be a “segmentation” of services for riding on demand, which has not yet emerged — and that is why the group is keeping its options open.

(Published by Financial Times - September 12, 2016)

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