Renting a car can be a pain in the ass. We’ve all been there — waiting in line, filling out paperwork, only to find out that the car you’d reserved is unavailable and you’re suddenly stuck with a vehicle you didn’t want. For Aidan McClean, founder and CEO of UFODRIVE, it was a breaking point.
UFODRIVE is an all digital, all electric car rental company. Everything is done smoothly via its app, from booking to finding your car and the final inspection. Aidan is adamant that transparency is key, with no surprising fees tagged onto the final price as is common with traditional rentals. Rather, the entire concept is designed around customer to make the experience as simple and straightforward as possible.
Currently, the company is located at the Brussels, Hamburg, and Luxembourg airports with plans to expand to more European cities this year, and the United States soon after. We chat with Aidan to learn more about his inspiration for founding UFODRIVE and where he sees it headed in the next few years.
Aidan McClean, founder and CEO of UFODRIVE
What was your inspiration for founding UFODRIVE?
My inspiration was twofold. Firstly, a personal passion for great customer experience, especially any product or service that saves you time. Having suffered hundreds of poor car rental experiences, I finally decided to design a process the way I would like it to be, i.e. super fast, simple, easy, and above all really cool. I took a ‘start again’ approach to the entire process — I wanted to make your car rental experience something to talk about, out of this world to simply ‘arrive and drive’.
Secondly, I strongly believe we have reached the point where our technology today can solve the world’s worsening climate situation. We don’t need to keep doing it the old way. Transport is not the only part of the Co2 problem but it’s one we can fix now. Electric cars finally work, they offer a better, cleaner and cooler mobility experience. The problem is that the transition away from legacy internal combustion is just way too slow. We need to massively speed up the shift. We need to bring EV into the mainstream, to show just how easy and better it is to drive electric.
People are unaware and we often fear the unknown, so by taking the first step and renting an EV before you buy one we believe UFODRIVE can help speed this transition.
What sets UFODRIVE apart from standard rental car companies?
Everything! We set out to make sure every stage of the legacy car rental process was redesigned around the customer. By listening to the frustration of rental customers we designed the fastest and easiest experience possible.
With UFODRIVE there is no queuing at a rental desk, no key, no paperwork, no confusing insurance options, no fuel options, automated car inspection, a transparent one per day price, the best pickup locations combined with a premium electric car.
Why all electric?
We cannot continue to add more polluting ICE cars to the roads! With electric our customers have no refueling or fuel options to be concerned about. We provide the customer an alternative they otherwise might not have considered.
The electric models we use offer connectivity from our APP to the Cars providing a truly digital experience. Electric differentiates us from the competition and we want to be the leaders in electric rental.
People might have concerns about renting an electric car, primarily with regards to charging, maintenance issues, or even unfamiliarity. How do you assuage these fears?
Information! Convincing people to try something new requires us to address any potential concern and fears customer might have. We designed the service to take these fears away from the customer.
We provide a lot of pre-drive information on how and where to charge, how to drive and use the car etc. We also provide a customized in-car help guide both printed, as part of our APP, and built in as part of the car’s screen user interface, in the case of Tesla. On top of that we provide 24/7 online chat and phone support, plus 24/7 remote monitoring of the car’s battery level so we can proactively assist should we foresee and problems.
How many models do you offer?
Tesla Model S, Jaguar I-PACE, and the new Nissan Leaf. We will shortly add the Tesla Model 3 and are in discussions with several OEMs about using and promoting their new electric cars coming to market.
Are there any models you’re particularly excited to have in your fleet soon?
We are very excited about adding the Tesla Model 3 to the fleet, new Hyundai Kona, New Audi e-tron, and Mercedes EQC amongst others…
How did you finance the company? What VCs or companies have invested?
We are fully funded for the next phase of our expansion, through private entrepreneur funding. We are planning a larger funding round in 2020 for Global expansion.
You are currently located at the Brussels, Hamburg, and Luxembourg airports. Do you have plans to expand to other locations soon?
We will soon announce two new exciting locations and plan further expansion in both airports and city centers. We have had great responses from airports to our innovative product and now it’s about choosing the right cities that are ready and proactive for electric cars. Throughout 2019 we will add new European cities and have begun early groundwork in the US.
Each of your locations is open 24/7 — is there someone present to assist you with your car rental or is everything digital and done via the app?
We are 100% digital. In the unlikely event of it being necessary for human intervention then we have agreements for each of our locations for people support.
What are the costs like in comparison with a traditional rental car? Is it comparable?
For cars in like categories, UFODRIVE offers the best value for money over the competition. With our ‘no fuel’, all inclusive insurance, low damage excess and fast track service we are cheapest across all locations.
What kind of public feedback have you received so far?
Overwhelmingly positive. Customers love the straight through ‘Arrive & Drive’ digital experience. We have been really encouraged by how easily people, most of whom have never driven or even been in an electric car before, have taken to the product. Many of our customers have said their next car will be electric because of UFODRIVE and that really motivates us.
What are your goals for UFODRIVE in the next few years?
Expand and diversify — fast! We aim to be in as many locations as fast as possible and continue to refine and improve the rental experience through innovative technology.
In addition to new electric models we are working on a range of digital tools to encourage and ease the transition to electric mobility. We want to become the ‘go-to’ brand for all things EV!
February 1st, 2019 by The Beam
By Erika Clugston