October 15, 2019 - He loves city life, likes cycling and appreciates the urban mobility mix: Since spring, Olivier Reppert has been moving the new SHARE NOW car sharing service forward. He spoke about how quickly the former competitors car2go and DriveNow are growing together and why it increases the quality of life in a city to have a choice about mobility.
Mr. Reppert, what generates quality of life in a city for you, personally?
For me, quality of life means freedom. The freedom to get quickly from A to B in different ways, especially when the destination points are far apart. Quality of life means being able to experience the culture and the people in a city. Because what do we really want? We want to learn, we want to develop ourselves further, we want to understand. We would like to experience the diversity of a city and to have quick access to it.
As CEO of SHARE NOW, you have the task of unifying car2go and DriveNow. What is the relationship at the moment?
The team at SHARE NOW has the exciting task of designing this merger. This is perfect for us because both partners, the former DriveNow employees, as well as the former car2go employees, have the same conviction. We believe that cars give us individual mobility in the urban environment. At the same time, we believe that a car can be shared.
How did you come to the area of mobility?
As a child I wanted to be an archaeologist, but ended up studying mechanical engineering and later worked in various units at Daimler. The passion for urban mobility came during my time at smart. For me, the smart was always the perfect urban car. With a lot of joy I observed then how successful the smarts in the car2go fleet were. I am now thankful to be carrying the overall responsibility for SHARE NOW. I firmly believe that we will be successful together.
What challenges does this overall responsibility present for you?
Carsharing appears to be simple, but we have to manage a high level of complexity behind the scenes. The task is to design the connection between the digital world and the specific use of a car as simply as possible. In this regard, we are pleased that the level of recognition for our brand is already very high to begin with.
What qualities do you need for this job?
I am happy to represent SHARE NOW, but at the same time I am also a part of the team. As CEO, you must listen well and be able to make quick decisions: What has absolute priority in the customer experience and what does this mean for the teams during the implementation? In addition, in our multidimensional situation we can't always wait for the 100-percent solution, this is what distinguishes us from traditional companies. We have to learn to deal with mistakes and to make some subsequent adjustments here and there. Most of all, we as managers have an open and supportive culture. For example, when people with families now move from Munich or Stuttgart to Berlin, this is associated with a huge effort. I also have three kids and know how it is when you have to look for a kindergarten or a school. We want to accompany this change with the required respect.
The headquarters of SHARE NOW are in Berlin – not in Stuttgart and not in Munich. How did this decision come about?
It was important to find a hub as a mobility powerhouse for SHARE NOW. Berlin is the city of innovative mobility. We have e-scooters, bike sharing, electric roller and a constant stream of new offers in public transport. Berlin in particular stands for forward-looking mobility concepts and thinking outside the box, and is therefore the perfect location for the present and future members of the YOUR NOW family.
Daimler and BMW as partners of mobility services: What value do the unified forces have for the customer?
Daimler and BMW are pioneers of carsharing. Carsharing is not a disruptive development outside the automotive industry. We invented it, this is very important. Daimler and BMW continue to be competitors when it comes to vehicle sales and the leadership position in a given country. That is also a healthy thing because this competition drives innovation and development forward. However, we as SHARE NOW are facing the competition in the market together. Our customers are profiting from the simplified access to the joint fleet. This enables a significantly improved availability of vehicles and a greater selection of vehicle models at different locations.
SHARE NOW has recently pulled out of a number of Canadian and US cities. Why?
We think entrepreneurially and are trying out many things that hold the promise of bolstering our presence in the market. This also includes different operational sites outside Europe. When we see that shared mobility is not accepted as well in some cities as it is in Europe, we pull out. We still have the goal of being profitable, and that is the reason why we react so rigorously.
Now that you mention it: What makes you so optimistic that you can generate profits with carsharing?
We have ten years of experience behind us, which make us strong on the car2Go and DriveNow side. As a result, we can compare numbers and identify potential. We know exactly what approach we need to take in order to be profitable with free-floating carsharing. While this can't be applied at random from city to city, we know that we have to steer ahead in order to do business profitably.
Carsharing is very important for sustainable urban mobility because….
…because it is a true alternative for people in the city, who don’t want to own a car. Because we create more urban space and parking space. And because we relieve cities from CO2 emissions. Because electric mobility is a focal element of our strategy.
In Amsterdam, Paris, Madrid and Stuttgart you are already deploying purely electric vehicles. Is that your goal for all participating cities?
The future is electric, that much is very clear. But we are not building up any infrastructure. Rather, we are working hand in hand with the cities. Hamburg, for example, is now in the process of building up its charging infrastructure; at the same time, we are increasingly adding more electric vehicles to the fleet. We would like it if the charging stations were available not only for us but also for the use of other services or for private persons.
Could the SHARE NOW service have the effect that users will discover electric mobility for themselves and will buy an electric vehicle?
Yes, because electric mobility can be experienced by our customers in daily life. With our fleet, users have the opportunity to find out what an electric vehicle feels like. And we keep seeing that electric driving is great fun for them.
In big cities, there is a huge range of mobility options. What brings me to the decision for SHARE NOW?
The absolute freedom and flexibility. You design the way from A to B by yourself and can combine carsharing services with other services. And what could be better than being able to use a fortwo today, a Mini tomorrow, a 1 Series convertible the day after tomorrow, and a Mercedes-Benz GLA the day after that? You don't have one car, you have the entire range. You can get a car at any time and can also park for free everywhere.
How do you yourself move around in Berlin?
I love my bicycle, especially for the ride to work and back home, because I can also think out a lot of things during this time. And I like being in motion while I do this. But I also combine. Driving to the restaurant with our service on the weekend and going back home with public transport later – in Berlin this is very easy and a great way to move around in the city.
Is it possible to share a car at SHARE NOW for holiday travel?
Yes, things will have to go in that direction. Not today because we have placed the focus on short-term rentals. But, we will also be able to provide our customers with a car for a weekend on the Baltic Sea.
And some people nevertheless find it difficult to share a car. Not least in Germany - a true car country.
Nevertheless, the love for the car is still there. In a car you have freedom, flexibility and a private space. It is a beautiful product that can meanwhile be built sustainably and be used sustainably. Carsharers also have an emotional relationship with the car. Our users love cars, they associate positive emotions with them. But, they also place value on sharing this car with others.
About Olivier Reppert
Olivier Reppert was born in 1974 in Strasbourg, studied at the Louis Pasteur University in Strasbourg, and graduated with a master's degree in Business and Industrial Engineering. He has been working for Daimler since 1998. After various positions for Mercedes-Benz Sales & Marketing in Germany and internationally, in 2010 he moved to smart, where he took over the brand and product management in 2014. In 2016 he built up car2go. In February 2019, Olivier Reppert took over the management of SHARE NOW.