The RAC and UFODRIVE have forged a new partnership, as the all-digital, car rental company increases its fleet in the UK.
UFODRIVE, a car hire platform featuring exclusively electric cars, launched in London in 2020, bringing 100 zero-emission cars to rent across the capital.
Since then, it has built-up a network of 17 locations in 8 countries across Europe including two in London, with this number set to increase in 2021.
UFODRIVE says it is amid a successful crowdfunding drive on Seedrs, which is aimed at aiding its planned further growth in the UK and its move into new countries.
With its background, UFODRIVE said it felt it needed a new rescue service partner for its fleet.
Jonathan Shine, country manager at UFODRIVE, said: “We were looking for a partner who, like us was innovative in their thinking.
“The RAC’s approach to EVs complements our needs really well, and means we can progress our business in the UK safe in the knowledge that our motorists will be in the best possible hands, in the unlikely event that they either run out of charge or suffer a breakdown.
“They also offered us an extremely competitive package that is geared to take our imminent rapid fleet expansion in its stride. Furthermore, they are a long established and trusted brand which will reassure anyone who rents with us, should the worst happen.”
The RAC provides a rescue service with patrol vehicles which can provide on-the-spot charging for electric vehicles (EVs) that have run out of charge.
The RAC EV Boost is a lightweight van-mounted unit that provides an emergency ‘top up’ to allow a stranded motorist either to get a short distance home or to reach a nearby charging point in order to properly recharge their vehicle.
Most RAC vans also provide ‘All Wheels Up’ technology, allowing the stranded vehicle to be moved safely without having to call for a low loader, the company said.
Andy Baker, consumer roadside managing director at the RAC, said: “We’re pleased to support UFODRIVE as it continues to grow its footprint here in the UK.
“As well as having a nationwide network of expert local patrols, we’re also rolling out our own market-leading technology that can deliver an emergency charge to electric cars or – if absolutely necessary – ensure they can be recovered quickly and easily by an RAC patrol van with all four wheels off the road.”
“Let’s get an UFO”. It will be one of those everyday statements. Like “let’s get an Uber”.
UFODRIVE is the world’s first all-digital, all-electric, 24 hr premium car rental app that’s taking over the future. It was founded in 2018 by CEO Aidan McClean, who had one too many horrible rental experiences and decided to fix it.
Now it’s in 8 countries and London is the 12th of Europe’s glamorous cities to hail UFODRIVE. From Paris to Vienna, a pandemic can’t stop their success. They posted 108% growth in 2020, won Startup of the Year and made headlines around the globe when they hit their £1.5 million Seedrs crowdfunding mark by halftime. And it’s easy to see why.
All you need is a smartphone, or someone who has one. Book the car and location, let the app guide you to your vehicle, unlock using keyless entry and drive. I booked my Tesla (the fleet is mainly Tesla based) in two minutes - no paperwork, no people, no fuel, no hidden costs, no emissions. You can extend your rental period or add two extra drivers with just a click on the app dashboard. That really is ‘advanced car rental’.
A Tesla Model 3 (330km range) starts at £85. It sounds like premium price but you get insurance, the first 150 miles, all charging, additional drivers and roadside assistance for free. Comparatively UFODRIVE is actually 20% cheaper than traditional rental companies.
And unlike other rental companies UFODRIVE gives back to you and the planet. The company uses eco-friendly biodegradable chemical cleaning between rentals to keep the process water-free. For every 100 kilograms of CO2 saved by a customer, UFODRIVE also donates €1 to green energy funds across the world. And your saved CO2 is recycled as cashback redeemable against your next booking.
The company’s philosophy is “everything is customer service focused'“ and it shows. From the support guides on the app, to the 24/7 chat team, the phone lines, the range and recharge alerts - you are looked after on an individual basis. UK manager Jonathan Shine tells me he even goes as far as to ring drivers if they haven’t seen their zero miles recharge alert, so that he can guide them to their nearest charging point.
This flawless consumer experience means UFO hardly spends on marketing - they can rely on word of mouth. I’ve certainly told everyone about them. As a car reviewer, this was a test driving first for me. I was trying out a new way of driving, a new type of mobility, a new lifestyle solution. And like every other customer I’m converted. I won’t hire a car without UFODRIVE in the future, nor will I let anyone else.
For Shine consumer conversion is the reason they have no worries about future competition. ‘During a time when rental companies are being decimated by the lack of footfall from travel, tourism and business, UFODRIVE is taking all the custom. Customers are preferring professionally chemically cleaned cars and contactless over a user-shared system.” It wasn’t modelled for a pandemic (what was?) but like all the big winners of this year, being lightyears ahead pays off.
UFODRIVE proves you either get onboard with electric or you get left behind. As an EV enthusiast I am already sold but most consumers don’t like change and they certainly don’t want to lead the crowd. UFO demonstrates why electric is inevitable: Electric cars provide century-defining digital and technological lifestyle advances, even before the benefit of being environmentally friendly. UFODRIVE offers individuals and business a sleek, simple, sexy solution to their mobility problems and gives them the green eco tick too. Eco is just the added bonus on top of a life-changing product.
To prove the point Shine tells me: “Customer EV curiosity is one of the biggest parts of the job - people want to ask questions, try out the future, and UFODRIVE gives them a way to do that. The two-way market research emboldens customers to buy their first electric car.” After a dreamy drive in these automatic noiseless gliding machines that’s no surprise. Want to try electric before you buy? Get a UFO.
The only downside is the minimum age - you have to be twenty-six to rent a UFO (not dissimilar to most rental companies.) Shine confirmed it’s the insurance restrictions not UFODRIVE’s own policy, but I hope as the fleet grows the age could be lowered on some cars.
Feedback keeps growing the horizons for UFODRIVE. On the day I interview Shine his London office announces another industry first: EV delivery direct to your door. For those people who can’t get out or don’t want to use public transport your car is delivered to you. Londoners asked, UFODRIVE delivered - literally. London has exceeded expectations and UFO is adding new EVs as soon as they hit the market - Ford, Polestar, VW to name a few. The company’s huge crowdfunding success means up to ten new locations in Germany and a move to the US are in the works.
And UFODRIVE will be taking consumers with them every step of the way to their lightning-fast world domination. Customers are falling over themselves to join the ride by investing in UFODRIVE’s Seedrs crowdfunding. With 9 days to go for me it’s a no brainer.
The ultimate praise from a car reviewer is to buy the car. I’m going one better - investing in the company. That’s how dazzling the new UFO planet is.
To book with UFODRIVE visit their website or download the app. (Available on IOS and Android.)
To invest in their crowdfunding visit their Seedrs page. (9 days to go - ends February 22nd 2021.)
Watch me drive around Paris with UFODRIVE to get the experience.
UFODRIVE is a car rental service in Europe that only offers electric vehicles and has a unique story born from an idea on how to provide better service in an industry that is inundated with long wait times and confusing paperwork. I spoke with CEO Aidan McClean, who shared a bit about UFODRIVE with me — the company’s goals and how he hopes to help advance the switch to driving electric. CleanTechnica has interviewed Aiden before (see video below), but it’s been a while and this is a new, fresh interview where Aiden shared some of his ambitions for the future as well as the inspiration behind the name UFODRIVE.
Inspiration Behind the Name, UFODRIVE
Aidan explained that he is a bit of a space geek, which was obvious from the space decor in his background. He wanted a name that was catchy and memorable. “It was almost a joke at the beginning to call it UFODRIVE,” he explained, but people loved the name and it stuck. “No one ever forgets it,” he said.
Types of Vehicles UFODRIVE Rents Out
The type of vehicles UFODRIVE rents out are electric vehicles only. Originally, the company started leasing Tesla vehicles and expanded to other EVs. “We started the company three years ago at our first location in Luxembourg and it was really just Tesla available. But in the last couple of years — particularly now — there’s a lot of new models coming onto the market,” he explained. UFODRIVE now has, along with Tesla, Audi e-tron, Jaguar I-PACE, Hyundai Kona, and Nissan Leaf vehicles. UFODRIVE plans to add both the VW ID.3 and ID.4 also.
An App-Based Rental Service with Its Own UFO Landing Bay
“But it’s only electric cars and completely on an app. There’s no queueing, no paperwork, and no human interaction whatsoever.” Aiden pointed it out that it takes less than 2 minutes to rent a car with UFODRIVE, as opposed to the lengthy process of traditional rentals. This avoids the common chaos and confusion that comes with renting a car.
“It’s a 40–50 minute wait on average at a queue, a line, a desk. Then you’ve usually pushed paperwork,” which Aiden explained included expensive insurance options that you probably don’t want or fuel options that you really don’t need. “You’ve gotta get a key. Then you’ve gotta take a shuttle bus to where the car is located. Then you’ve got to find that car, and then take it for a couple of days. Then you’ve got to return the car, and usually you’ve got to bring it back fully fueled. It’s a hassle experience.”
UFODRIVE solves these issues by taking almost every hassle away. “With UFODRIVE it’s completely on an app. You just arrive and drive in 2 minutes or less. It’s a simple as that. The phone opens your car and it’s only an electric car.”
The fuel, which for EVs is electricity, is included with the price. Even if you have to stop and charge the car, the cost of this is included in the rental price. “There’s no additional cost for the customer during their journey and there’s no hassle,” Aiden said. “Our software provides range and charging support so the customer can actually find a charger when they need to without worrying about range anxiety.”
Aiden explained that the software is connected to over 100,000 chargers, so wherever the customer is, the app will tell them where they can go to charge the vehicle.
UFO Landing Bays
I was extremely curious about the UFO Landing Bay, so asked about that as well. “The UFO Landing Bay is our own dedicated location for the collection of the cars. They are at locations in prime city centers and international airports. They’re really designed to be very pleasing, almost like a car showroom. So, really brightly lit, and the most important feature is our own chargers on site.”
“So, at every location, we implement our own electric chargers for the cars. There are nice signages, it’s nicely lit, and there are 4K cameras everywhere for security and facial recognition for the cars, and so on. It’s a pleasant experience and all of the UFO bays are in very prime locations.”
UFODRIVE Wants to Do More than Make Renting Cars Easier
We spoke about driving, and since I’ve never driven, I explained that I wasn’t really into cars until Tesla came along. I really had no need for a car and wanted to contribute less pollution over my lifetime. This is where Aiden shared another goal of his with UFODRIVE.
Not only does UFODRIVE exist to make the car rental easy, but it’s also because — 50% of the reason — he was just sick of only being able to hire a polluting car. Aiden has spent over 25 years cycling and racing all over Europe, and he’s had several instances of diesel exhaust blown in his face.
“There’s nothing worse than a big SUV going by and you’re sucking in the diesel fumes. We want to try to make electric mobility for shared fleets, for rental fleets, mainstream. And that’s what we’ve done.”
Aiden explained that many of his customers had never experienced an electric vehicle before. UFODRIVE was their first experience. “80% of our customers have never even driven an electric car before. And 97% after using our service said they would return.”
Aiden noted that his service is great for skeptics who want to try an EV before buying one. Many say, “Wow, I’ll never go back to the old way,” and Aiden pointed out this is exactly what happened to him. “I was driving a diesel car. I test drove a Tesla in Luxembourg, and that afternoon I went, ‘That’s it. That’s the end of the old way.'”
8 Countries And Growing
UFODRIVE is located in 18 locations across 8 countries in Europe. Aiden wants to expand to the US and told us he was in San Francisco planning to launch two locations in February of last year but then the pandemic halted those plans. “We’re going to resume that project shortly.” Aiden told me that they are completing a large round of funding and that he hopes to resume the launch in the US once that round of funding is complete.
One of the states he had in mind besides California was Florida. “The groundwork we did was in California in San Francisco and LA. We’ve also done some examination of Florida.” He explained why California and Florida were ideal. “In the US, those markets are more ahead, I would say, in terms of electric charging infrastructure than some other areas such as central states, but it’s getting there.” Aiden thinks that UFODRIVE will start in California and Florida and quickly spread.
UFODRIVE is taking its idea to new levels by providing its software as a service (SaaS) to other car rental agencies. “We’re providing our software platform to others who wish to shift their fleet to electric. For other carshare companies, rental companies, and other fleets that are looking to move to electric, our platform is end to end and helps them make that transition.”
Another thing UFODRIVE is doing is a crowdfunding initiative for customers who love their service and want to invest or be a part of the company. “We’ve decided to launch a crowdfunding initiative about 4–5 weeks ago. We launched a kind of small funding round to allocate our capital to the public. We launched that on a platform in the UK called Seedrs.” Seedrs allows customers to invest a small amount of money into UFODRIVE.
Aidan explained that they launched the initiative, set a target, and within 10 days the target was filled. “We’ve had almost 600 people invest already and we’ve actually extended out another two weeks because there are so many people interested. That will close around the end of February.”
Where does UFODRIVE expect to be five years from now? Global domination, of course! “I think with the acceleration of the electric revolution, with the traction we have, and with the technology platform we have, I think there’s a great opportunity for us to become the known brand in clean mobility and easy mobility, and if we get our footprint into the states — and we’re looking at other areas as well such as Australia and New Zealand and other areas as well — I think that we can have in five years time a truly global presence and something unique and truly EV brand. That’s what we’re hoping,” Aiden told me.
I suggested China as a great market for UFODRIVE, especially since China has been supportive of the EV movement. Tesla is a great example of this. He noted that UFODRIVE was working with a Chinese manufacturer to help bring one of their cars to Europe, but did not talk about entering China.
Another thing Aiden shared with me was that UFODRIVE doesn’t want to be just a net-zero carbon company, but wants to go even further. “We launched a unique partnership about three months ago with an organization called Ark2030.” Ark2030 is an organization that is on a mission to reverse the climate crisis and end the destruction of our planet.
UFODRIVE makes contributions to Ark2030 on its customers’ behalf. “Whenever someone’s done a 500-mile drive with UFODRIVE, they get a carbon saving statement saying ‘You’ve saved X [amount] carbon dioxide because you drove clean’ and we then double those savings. We make a contribution to biosphere regeneration projects around the world.” With this goal, Aiden hopes to go beyond net zero. “It’s going even further. It’s beyond net zero,” he said.
UFODRIVE, the world’s first all digital, all electric car rental and shared mobility service, is inviting investment to fund its expansion into new locations.
The latest round of funding for this two-year-old business includes a campaign on Seedrs.com, with a target of £1.5million. That figure was exceeded within half the scheduled term and now it’s a question of seeing how far the campaign can go, given the strong demand and undoubted expansion opportunities.
So why is UFODRIVE attracting such interest? Let’s look at five key indicators of a company’s long-term prospects and see how UFODRIVE measures up.
Is it unique?
The less competition a business has, the more attractive a prospect it looks. UFODRIVE is certainly breaking new ground, being first into the digital car rental market with an all electric fleet.
And it’s already leaving the competition in its wake, with the highest Net Promoter Score in the world car rental market, 10 times higher than its nearest competitor.
Is there a need for it?
How many eagerly awaited holidays have got off to a false start due to the car rental experience? You get to the desk, there’s no-one there. When they finally turn up and you make it to the front of the queue, they take ages filling in paperwork and trying to upsell you expensive insurance and fuel options. By the time you drive away from the airport you’re wishing you'd stayed at home.
The legacy car rental model is ripe for disruption and UFODRIVE is disrupting it.
But that’s not the only problem UFODRIVE is solving. As more and more businesses prepare to change out their fleets for electric vehicles, they need software to connect them to the charging network, optimise battery usage etc. UFODRIVE’s fully automated e-mobility software platform is so efficient and easy to use that other businesses are buying it as a SaaS product to manage their own electric fleets.
Is it future proof?
The future is green. The internal combustion engined is doomed. In order to meet climate change targets, Governments have announced plans to ban petrol and diesel engines outright by 2030 and car manufacturers are focusing all their efforts on developing electric vehicles. UFODRIVE is ahead of the game with its all electric fleet, currently connected to a network of over 140,000 fast chargers.
With the onus on companies to become Net Zero by 2050, UFODRIVE is there now. In fact, by contributing to Ark2030 to help global environment regeneration, UFODRIVE has a negative carbon footprint. Furthermore, the shared mobility model is a step towards a future of autonomous vehicles and the end of car ownership as we know it today. Far from having to fall in line with the rest of the world, the world is falling in line with UFODRIVE.
Is it performing?
We’ve already mentioned the Net Promoter Score, and all that positive customer feedback is being reflected in exponential growth. Last year, amidst the global pandemic, UFODRIVE grew by 108%.
With no need for staff on the ground or buildings in each location, UFODRIVE’s overheads are kept incredibly low, resulting in operating margins four times greater than those of legacy car rental businesses. And as the world comes out of lockdown and demand grows for UFODRIVE’s SaaS platform, that growth looks set to accelerate.
Is there room for it to grow?
So just how big can UFODRIVE be? So far, in just two years, it has established 17 locations in eight countries and its pushing ahead with 20 more, including inroads into the US. Just as Uber has disrupted the global taxi market through the smart but simple use of digital technology, UFODRIVE is doing the same to the car rental market – and indeed setting a new standard with its fully electric model.
Moreover, as the world’s population becomes increasingly urbanised, the convenience and cost-effectiveness of the shared mobility model, already worth in excess of $60billion across China, Europe and the United States, will boom as it becomes the next generation’s preference over the cost and waste of traditional car ownership.
These five factors add up to a compelling argument for investing in UFODRIVE. A third of the proceeds will be spent on new locations and fleet, with the remainder deployed across marketing, personnel and technology to support the expansion of both the rental service and the EV fleet management platform. The Seedrs campaign is running until 19 February and full details can be found by following the links below.
[disclaimer] Investing carries risks, including loss of capital and illiquidity. Please read the Seedrs risk warning before investing.
In 1908, Henry Ford launched his legendary Model T automobile with the words, “Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black.” The joke underlined the fact that the ground Ford was breaking went far beyond personal colour preferences. The real message stopped at, “Any customer can have a car…” and with that, Ford set about raising capital investment. With the benefit of hindsight, who wouldn't have invested in the Ford Motor Company?
A century later, the paradigm is shifting from “cars for all” to “mobility made easy… and green”. The internal combustion engine, given ubiquity by Ford, is now ready to be retired. The future of mobility is electric and digital.
Uber began the revolution by embracing digital to disrupt the taxi market; now UFODRIVE is taking it to the next level with car rental and shared mobility. Via an app on your phone, you can find a hire car near you, pay for it, unlock it and drive it away, without any of the hassle associated with legacy car rentals. No queuing, no paperwork, no confusing fuel options or pressure to buy expensive insurance.
And no pollution either. All UFODRIVE’s cars are electric, meaning it’s not only future proof for a world in which governments are pledging to ban petrol and diesel cars by 2030, but it’s achieving Net Zero years ahead of UN targets. In fact, by contributing to Ark2030 to help global environment regeneration, UFODRIVE is carbon negative.
In just two years UFODRIVE has become the spearhead for the digital car rental revolution. As the world’s first digital, all electric rental service, it has trounced the rest of the global rental market with a Net Promoter Score 10 times higher than its nearest competitor. In that time it has launched in 17 locations in eight countries, with 20 more locations signed up and ready to go, and there is plenty more room to grow.
UFODRIVE’s electric fleet of rental cars is supported by a network of over 140,000 fast chargers, all findable via the app. In fact, UFODRIVE’s fully automated e-mobility software platform is so efficient and easy to use that other businesses are buying it as a SaaS product to manage their own transition to electric fleets.
With two pioneering revenue streams, it’s not surprising that investors are getting on board with UFODRIVE. In 2020, when international tourism fell by well over 50%, the company grew by 108%. It’s currently raising funds through a Seedrs campaign, which hit its target of £1.5million just half way in. The campaign is running until 19 February and UFODRIVE is inviting further investment.
This is a convertible loan investment structure and all investors in this round, including Seedrs investors, will receive A Class shares on conversion. The company currently has three classes of shares: Preferred Shares, A Class Shares and Ordinary Shares. Full details can be found on the Seedrs campaign website here.
It’s not every day that an opportunity comes along to invest in a truly groundbreaking venture and contribute to a sustainable future for the planet. A century from now, they’ll be looking back and saying, “With the benefit of hindsight, who wouldn’t have invested in UFODRIVE?”
[disclaimer] Investing carries risks, including loss of capital and illiquidity. Please read the Seedrs risk warning before investing.
Travel is undergoing a fundamental shift. By 2030, the UK and a host of other counties will deliver on their commitment to ban sales of new diesel and petrol cars. The impact of this can already be seen now in the surging sales of electric vehicles with further disruption (and opportunity) in evidence right across the Mobility sector.
UFODRIVE, is one of the front runners in embracing the new world of Mobility. Capitalizing on both the shift away from the traditional model of car ownership, with many city dwellers now opting not to own a car, as well as the shift to electric, it was a first mover in developing a compelling alternative proposition, primed for rapid acceptance as part of the electric revolution.
Launched in 2018, UFODRIVE delivers 100% digital, 100% electric, zero hassle car rental. It provides a truly customer focused experience by removing all of the pain points from traditional car rental. The full booking and rental process is managed via the UFODRIVE app allowing customers to reserve and drive, efficiently, autonomously, and without the need to queue at a desk. With an entirely electric (primarily Tesla) fleet, added to an industry first carbon credits-based loyalty programme, UFODRIVE has already delivered Co2 savings of over 1 million kgs.
Now operating from 17 locations across 8 countries, UFODRIVE’s model of radically better car rental is proving to be a hit with travelers. Feedback from customers earns UFODRIVE the highest Net Promoter Score of car rental anywhere. It’s also proven to be resilient in the face of challenging business conditions by growing its business by 108% during 2020.
UFODRIVE is currently crowdfunding on Seedrs.com with its target of £1.5m already reached at the halfway stage of the campaign which is likely to be extended given the high demand. Speaking about the campaign, founder and CEO, Aidan McClean, said “it has been both gratifying and exciting to see this vision become reality and we are now looking to jump start the next phase of our business with this crowdfunding initiative. UFODRIVE investors can look forward to benefitting from the expansion of a business that has already successfully created its own unique space in the car rental sector.”
A key component of UFODRIVE’s customer proposition is the real time connectivity to over 140,000 EV chargers. This allows customers to be guided to charging locations via the app at any stage during their journey and has been particularly welcomed by the more than 70% of customers who had never driven electric previously.
The powerful technology behind UFODRIVE’s fleet operations is also being deployed as an end-to-end EV Mobility Software as a Service platform. This is currently being rolled out to a growing pipeline of fleet operators making the switch to electric. The first customers are already live, and demand is expected to increase further as more operators start to move away from traditional diesel fleets.
Over 500 Seedrs investors have joined UFODRIVE to help fuel a move towards a better solution for customers and the planet. With further expansion coming during 2021, UFODRIVE has global ambitions, highly efficient technology developed on real EV fleet experience, and a vision for sustainable, hassle-free mobility.