A car hire service offering intercity rentals for £1 plus fuel sees the UK market as its biggest opportunity for growth.
DriiveMe works with established car rental companies, such as Hertz, Enterprise and Europcar, offering them drivers to move vehicles to where they are needed to meet demand.
Usually, rental firms would pay contracted drivers to move cars to where they are needed or load them onto lorries to move them to where customers have arranged to pick them up.
DriiveMe aims to cut out that process while offering bargain rentals to drivers who are heading in the same direction.
The firm is the brainchild of the Lambert cousins. Geoffroy and Alexandre are based over in France, while Trevor heads up the UK operation that launched in April this year and earlier this month added 21 new routes.
New routes include Newcastle, Cardiff, Bristol, Plymouth, Inverness and Aberdeen which add to DriiveMe’s existing destinations London, Manchester and Birmingham and existing departure cities Edinburgh and Glasgow – taking the total number of routes to 31.
“Everything about the rental is the same as a standard rental,” Trevor Lambert told Travolution. “Except there are limits at the moment with where you can travel to and from, and on what dates the cars are available.”
It launched in France in 2012, and in Spain in January 2017. Globally, DriiveMe has facilitated more than a million journeys, and offers rentals to between 4,000 and 5,000 people a month in France alone.
The UK target is to reach 4,000 users per month within four years. It has started with routes between Scottish cities Glasgow and Edinburgh to Manchester and London, but wants to gradually expand the number of routes.
That will be done based on demand from both renters and rental companies.
UK is where the cousins se growth as they believe the model has reached a “critical volume” in France.
There are investors behind the scenes so currently there are no plans for outside funding as Lambert said the company is growing fast organically. “What we are finding is that turnover is more than doubling every year,” he said. “We are healthy financially.”
The trouble, says Lambert, is convincing renters it’s legitimate. “We’ve noticed some scepticism,” he said. “People think it’s too good to be true. If a group of people use the car and split the cost of petrol, the savings can be immense.”
“We had heard of something similar in Australia and America, and thought we needed something like this in France.
“This platform puts all the different car owners’ requirements in one place so we can maximise the options to the users.”
The company is paid by the car owner or rental company, meaning it doesn’t have to charge more than the “token” £1 for the rental. The theory is that it saves the car rental company money as it’s a cheaper way to transport vehicles from one place to another.
“It saves those companies a lot of money,” said Lambert, an engineer by trade who used to make lay-flat aircraft seats for economy cabins and has been involved in the business since January.
“I have experience in products and services that create a saving for passengers,” he said. “So this is a natural progression.”
So what about insurance? That’s covered by the Allianz, paid for by the rental companies.
As Trevor Lambert says, everything about the rental is the same as a standard one. Except the £1 price that is.