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Wunder Mobility is enabling operators to help cities migrate to sharing

Published on March 14, 2023

The Business of Mobility is a series of articles featuring business leaders in sustainable mobility.  

Q&A with Hanz Geeratz (CTO at Wunder Mobility) and Ross Douglas (Founder at Autonomy)  

Wunder Mobility, based in Hamburg, provides software solutions and sharing ready vehicles for shared mobility. They offer a 360 degree service for sharing operators (both carsharing and micromobility sharing). Even if you’ve never heard of them, you’re likely to have benefited from their services, which cover 200 cities, over 40 million rides, and over 35 million API calls handled per day which proves their stable system to serve users 24/7 with shared mobility. 

Ross: Last time we spoke with Wunder Mobility, back in 2021, you explained your interesting startup adventure: from B2C ride sharing to B2B software, finance, and asset sourcing. Is that how things stand today? 

Hanz: More, or less, although the big story for us is software and how we are helping the industry to migrate to shared solutions. 

Ross: I assume you’re talking about software as a service (SaaS)?

Hanz: Yes. SaaS is becoming like a commodity, like electricity, that you take for granted to run your operations. Mobility sharing companies have enough to worry about; they look to companies like us to handle the software, which we can do cheaper and better than they can do in-house. We manage the platform for them, and do all the commodity features like invoicing, verification, data management, etc.That enables the operators to take care of innovations and features they can differentiate against their competitors with their own teams based on Wunder Mobilities APIs if they want to.

Ross: What does it take to build an app for mobility sharing? 

Hanz: Most app-builders don’t have to worry about the IoT. But in the business of vehicle sharing you have to bridge the vehicle’s firmware (basic software control inside the vehicle) to the fleet API. Firmware can vary between manufacturer and model of vehicle, and then there are upgrades, which all present a complex problem for the platform. So, companies like ours need to manage that complexity so the client can operate their fleet from an easy-to-use dashboard.  

Ross: How much control of their fleet do operators have? 

Hanz: There’s a lot you can do with good fleet software: operation maps indicating parking zones, vehicle positioning, state of vehicle, battery charge level, street operator tasks lists, flexible pricings to the users etc.  

Ross: What about the users…

Hanz: Yes, good point. With our clever algorithms we help the operators manage rider behaviour and fleet usage optimization .   

Ross: This must have important commercial implications?

Hanz: Precisely. It’s very costly for the operator to have thieves and vandals taking advantage. So, good SaaS should provide profiles and warnings to prevent the wrong type of user from accessing the service. There’s also the commercial aspect, in terms of how to optimise value. Good SaaS helps operators become profitable, by improving the payment model (including subscriptions), and developing things like loyalty and rewards programmes. All of the mentioned above, currently offered by us.

Ross: Commercial viability seems to be an issue for mobility sharing; what’s the problem?    

Hanz: A common mistake in the industry is to chase volumes. Our data suggests that there are profits to be made – not only in gaining more customers – but in reducing costs and improving efficiencies. You really want to reduce fraud, theft, and bad driver behaviour; and optimize your operations. 

Ross: What about utilisation?

Hanz: Yes, a lot of sharing vehicles are idle for 70% of the time, which eats into your profits. Software providers have a role to play in mining the data, refining the algorithms, and delivering rider incentives to improve utilisation.  

Ross: And if you compare cars, to e-bikes, and e-scooters?

Hanz: Carsharing is relatively mature; most companies are doing a good job at squeezing the efficiencies. On the other end of the spectrum, e-scooter sharing is not performing as well as it could. For a start, demand for them is seasonal, and then riders tend to mistreat the vehicles. 

Ross: What’s your advice to sharing operators? 

Hanz: You need to have a good relationship with the city and stay ahead of changing regulations. Outsource what you need to, but make sure you achieve operational excellence. You cannot outsource operational excellence completely. 

Ross: When do you think vehicle sharing will finally deliver on its promise? 

Hanz: It’s already happening; just look at the Netherlands. But, you are right, we still have a long way to go, we’re only at the beginning. Political will remains a sticking point, particularly in Germany, where the government backs the automobile industry. But the change is happening; we’re going to see more zoning that bans single occupant driving; and we’ll see more micromobility lanes. In the meanwhile, sharing companies need to improve their efficiencies and show investors that you can do well, out of doing good. 

Ross: I think companies like Wunder Mobility have an important role to play in the transition from motorist to mobilist. Thanks for your time. 

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