Vulog was founded in 2006 by two engineers who had the idea to promote shared mobility. This may sound, to some, like the French company jumped the gun, entering the mobility market over a decade before the boom we have seen in front of us today. In fact, in 2006 there was no such thing as the iPhone, which made it fairly challenging for Vulog to starting build a business.
However, in this industry, you need to stay ahead of the game. To start, Vulog launched a small pilot project in the south of France with 15 electric cars. From this point, the company managed to find a business case for the trial and decided to focus on building technology for companies to operate mobility services.
Unsurprisingly, it took some time to become a reality, because there were no electric cars at the time. But, by 2013, the company started to accelerate alongside the take up of EVs and, by 2016, when Gregory Ducongé was introduced as CEO, became a market leader.
“We now have a presence in five different continents, so that we can cover the needs of our customers everywhere,” he tells Auto Futures. “Our goal today is to promote greener, cheaper and more convenient mobility for all.”
Today, Vulog works with leading automakers such as PSA Group and Kia, and operates in areas such as China, Europe and North Africa, which illustrates a huge response from regions and companies who are finally waking up to the mobility revolution.
The company provides all the technology needed to launch and operate shared mobility services, offering a platform with connected abilities for the end user and provider. Vulog also provides telematics units for cars, as there are many products on the market today that do not have enough connectivity features for operators.
“This platform is extremely flexible, which means that we can work with small startups that have 100 cars but can also work with OEMs and large fleets,” adds Ducongé.
Death of Car Ownership
Ducongé believes that we have only seen the start of what he calls the “mobility revolution” as cities around the world start to get rid of vehicles, promote shared mobility and improve air quality, while consumers start to move away from the costly and stressful experience of vehicle ownership.
“People are looking for new ways to move around and carsharing is no longer a taboo,” he says. “We are at the beginning of the mobility revolution, which has started with car-sharing schemes in cities and this is accelerating towards a huge disruption for the automotive industry.”
But the future of mobility goes beyond carsharing, with bikes, scooters and kick scooters becoming more and more popular across the world through new sharing platforms.
“Carsharing is only one component of the mobility revolution and we must make sure that we get into additional mobility services,” says Ducongé.
For example, Vulog is working with a Belgium multi-model sharing service called Poppy in Antwerp, Belgium, which has introduced mopeds into its service to provide a holistic solution to transport in the region.
This is just one of the businesses that Vulog collaborates with, showing the importance of partnerships with other mobility providers to make sure that they are capable of providing different solutions to customers, whether that is a car, bike, scooter or kick scooter.
The Next Step – Automation?
Carsharing is a stepping stone towards the overall goal of shared mobility, which will ensure safe, efficient and smart transport in and around urban environments. Technology has allowed companies to provide revolutionary services that not only improve travel around the city, but also the experience.
In the future, companies that have large fleets of cars will have to prepare for new innovations, such as autonomous vehicles, but identifying the best platforms to support their vision.
Ducongé also believes that the companies he is working with today are already very well positioned to lead what he calls the “autonomous mobility revolution,” thanks to their willingness for progression in the transport sector.
He says that his platform is “autonomous-ready” and is already able to put self-driving vehicles into operation. At the start of the year, Vulog launched a pilot project in Nice, France, demonstrating the technology’s capability of running a shared autonomous mobility service.
“This is something that we are capable of doing today,” he adds. “Now, the big question is when we can have these autonomous vehicles available for the market.”
In short, the industry needs to accelerate the shared mobility market. It is moving in the right direction, but it’s not fast enough. With pollution and climate change finally taking the limelight, companies like Vulog now have a clear vision and are ready to deploy solutions worldwide.