After successful launches at several European airports, UFOdrive is now expanding its electric car rental at Interparking 2 Portes, a prime carpark in Brussels city.
UFODrive, an all-digital, all-electric car rental solution, offers transparent pricing and a consistent customer experience. The new “UFObay” in Brussels City continues UFODrives’s mission to provide the fastest car rental experience possible and help accelerate the transition to zero-emission transport, with long-range electric vehicles driving across Europe. In Brussels, UFODrive customers can choose the Tesla Model S, the more affordable Tesla Model 3, the mid-range Hyundai Kona EV, or the long-awaited Audi E-Tron (made in Brussels too).
“Everything is setting UFODrive apart from standard rental companies," Aidan McClean, CEO of UFODrive, said in a statement. "Every stage of the process was redesigned around the customer.” This means: - No queuing at a rental desk - it’s self-service with the app - No key – the app is the key - No paperwork – car inspection is automated within the app - No confusing insurance options – insurance included in the daily price - No fuel options – free charging included in daily price
UFODrive is poised for European and U.S. expansion plan with Brussels, the capital of Europe as its first city center location. More locations will soon be announced.
Automieten einmal anders: Ab dem Findel per App zum Tesla mit UFODRIVE Ein leiser Klick auf meinem Handy und dann kann ich die Tür zum Tesla öffnen. Es ist das erste Mal, dass ich ein solches Auto fahre. Der Klick ergibt sich daraus, dass ich es gemietet habe - über eine App, genauer gesagt über UFODRIVE. Seit Mai 2018 ist das Start-up am Flughafen Findel präsent und bietet zwei Besonderheiten: Erstens verleiht es nur E-Autos. Neben der S-Klasse von Tesla ist auch der Jaguar i-pace und der Nissan Leaf zu mieten. Zweitens läuft der ganze Prozess über Handy. Das bedeutet: Kein Anstehen an Schaltern, keine aufdringlichen Angebote irgendwelcher zusätzlichen Versicherungen, keine anschließenden Inspektions-Runden um den Wagen. In zehn Minuten ist alles über die Bühne, lautet das Versprechen. Und: Da es eine App ist, geht das Ausleihen rund um die Uhr. Das funktioniert.
Per App zum Auto Eine Freundin hatte mir davon erzählt und war begeistert. Also lud ich die App herunter und testete. Zuerst lotste mich die App zum Wagen im Parkhaus, der in der so genannten UFObay steht. Um mich zu registrieren, musste ich meinen Führerschein fotografieren. Das ging einfach. Anschließend gab die App den Wagen frei. Ich zog den Stecker und setzte mich in den Tesla S. Als der Wagen anfuhr, war ich so irritiert, dass ich ihn nochmal an- und ausmachte. Der Grund: Der Motor ist wirklich leise. Dann wagte ich es doch. Falls es mir zu warm werden sollte, hatten die Betreiber eine Flasche Wasser zwischen den Vordersitzen bereitgestellt. Leise Musik ertönt. Dank der vorhandenen Parkkarte war die Ausfahrt kein Problem. Ich verlasse den Findel und muss auch keinen Blick mehr auf das Handbuch werfen, das vorsorglich alle Fragen beantwortet. Tesla fahren entspannt. Nach einer Spritztour bringe ich das Auto zurück. Alles, was ich tun muss: Es rückwärts einparken und den Stecker einstecken, um es wieder aufzuladen. Der letzte Handgriff erfolgt über die App, damit der Wagen verschlossen ist und der Vertrag erfüllt. Da die Vermietungsstelle, die blau markiert ist, direkt im Bereich des Parkhauses am Findel im zweiten Untergeschoss liegt, komme ich von hier auch gut weg. Das macht die Sache leichter. Vor allem, wenn ich es vergleiche mit meiner letzten Erfahrung in Portugal. Der Autoverleih hatte unterschiedlichste Preise, je nachdem, ob man über ein Reisebüro, das Büro vor Ort oder die Webseite kam. Ich konnte beim Online-Angebot erstmal eine Stunde warten - „Das Onlineangebot startet erst um 14.00“ - und die bearbeitende Dame war schlicht unfreundlich. Bei UFODRIVE kann ich mir die Start- und Endzeit selbst aussuchen.
Neues Angebot in Brüssel Das junge Start-up, das schon mehrere Preise erzielt hat, überzeugt mit seinem Angebot. Deshalb baut es aus. Bislang gab es neben Luxemburg die Standorte Hamburg und Brüssel. In Brüssel umfasst das Angebot seit gestern auch eine Offerte in der Innenstadt. Hier stehen der Tesla S, der Tesla 3, der Hyundai Kona EV und der in Brüssel produzierte Audi E-Tron bereit. „Bald werden London und Dublin folgen“, verspricht Marketing-Managerin Noémie Benoit.
Frust war Ausschlag für die Gründung Die Gründer Aidan McClean und Renaud Marquet sind sehr zufrieden. McClean war durch eigene frustrierende Erfahrungen auf die Idee gekommen. Zu lange Warteschlangen, irritierende Optionen, Extrakosten und Intransparenz reichten irgendwann. Dazu kam der Wandel im Hinblick auf Diesel und Benziner. Deshalb setzt UFODRIVE ausschließlich auf E-Autos. Es will seine Lösung als umweltfreundlich und rein digital anbieten. Unsichere können sich ein Video auf der Webseite ansehen, das die Schritte ohne Worte erklären lässt. Natürlich spielt auch Neugierde eine Rolle. Denn wer sonst leistet sich schon einen Tesla S? Bei den Preisen von UFODRIVE geht das aber. Der Tesla Modell 3 und Hyundai Kona Electric sollen folgen, vielleicht auch ein Audi e-tron. Ein Viertel der Kunden kommt wegen des Tesla, die anderen teilen sich in solche, die nur E-Autos fahren oder ein anderes Mietautoerlebnis haben wollen. McClean meint, UFODRIVE sei auf dem Weg in die Gewinnzone. Er will rund 30 Wagen an den Standorten haben und langsam aber sicher wachsen.
Aidan McClean rented a lot of cars during his years of business travel. After visiting nearly every international airport in Europe and the U.S., and trying all sorts of different rental companies, the experience never got any better. “It just didn’t work,” he said. So he started his own car rental company — and it only rents EVs.
UFODRIVE is a European EV rental car company with sites in three European airports — Brussels, Luxembourg, and Hamburg. The company has other rental locations on the way, and is even eyeing the U.S. market, as well. UFODRIVE’s CEO McClean talked to Electrek about the company’s development and future plans.
‘Arrive and Drive’ The first thing that made McClean interested in a better car rental experience was how much time it takes to actually pick up a car. “Time saving, that was the number one thing that was bugging me,” he said. “There’s no value in queuing to pick up your keys at a car rental desk.” So with UFODRIVE, McClean made sure there would be no lines. Everything is done through the company’s app. Customers can book through the app (or the UFODRIVE website), which gives users one all-inclusive price, including insurance and charging. Before picking up the car, customers can use the app to scan their drivers’ license for registration purposes. The app will guide you to the car, and from there, it will show you any known damage on the car while customers inspect it — drivers can take photos of any further damage. After that, a keyless entry provides access to the car and the process is complete. Charging is included for free, either through Tesla’s Supercharger network or via charging cards for third-party chargers, depending on the vehicle. “Arrive and drive,” he said, noting that returning customers can get into their cars and drive off in as quickly as two minutes. Returning a car and closing out the rental contract requires plugging in the vehicle to charge before walking away, and the vehicles are cleaned on site while charging.
EVs Only Why did McClean want to go all-electric with his venture? It all goes back to his time as a cyclist, racing along roads as cars passed him by. “I had enough of sucking in diesel fumes when a car goes past me. I thought, ‘This is wrong, this has to stop.’ It has to change,” he said. “I actually think the attitude to diesel and petrol in Europe is getting to be the way smoking was 20 years ago. Almost everyone I speak to, their next car will be an electric.” So UFODRIVE presented the perfect opportunity to get people into EVs. Currently, the company offers the Tesla Model S, Jaguar I-PACE, and the newest Nissan Leaf. UFODRIVE will also be adding the Tesla Model 3 and Hyundai Kona Electric to its fleet in the near future, and McClean is also considering adding the Audi e-tron. (UFODRIVE’s fleet webpage reveals a number of other possible future vehicles, as well.) Based on customer feedback so far, McClean estimates half his customers want a new way to rent a car. The other half simply want the chance to drive an EV. “About a quarter of people say they just want to drive a Tesla,” he said. As for the rental cost, McClean compares it to renting a luxury vehicle from another rental provider. However, he’s quick to point out that offering built-in insurance and free charging — with no need for fuel, of course — lowers that price, making the overall cost 20 percent cheaper “in most cases.”
More Markets UFODRIVE is launching its first city center site, in Brussels, on Monday. A Dublin city site is also in the works, with a London site advancing, as well. McClean said these city locations will be near hotels and business centers. McClean said a number of other airport sites are also planned for Europe, with three more coming soon. UFODRIVE also has plans to enter the U.S. market. A launch in the latter part of this year or 2020 is possible, and McClean has already zeroed in on some possible locations in California and Florida. He noted that the company is considering both its own locations — as it has in Europe — or franchising through another rental provider. McClean clearly has an eye on expansion. But his goal is to build up UFODRIVE’s fleet slowly — starting with five cars and working up to 30 at each location. He said that demand has been better than expected thus far, and UFODRIVE is “on the road to being profitable.” He also plans to add more features to the app as time progresses. All of this, he hopes, will get more people into the seats of his all-electric fleet. “It’s a huge opportunity to get people to use EVs,” he said.
UFODRIVE will make you love renting a car. A 100% mobile car rental experience at airports and city centers in Europe.
UFODRIVE offers you a Fast Track car rental experience. Book in 3 clicks, unlock and drive the all-electric premium fleet including Tesla Model S, via your phone. No more queues, no paperwork, no more extra-costs, no surprises. Hassle-free car rental at airports and city centers in Europe.
Features - 24/7 premium self-service access - No rental desks, no queues, you need only your phone - No paperwork. Everything is done via the app - Fully comprehensive insurance included with no need to buy excess waiver insurance – all-inclusive price paid ONCE - No fuel cost and refuelling options, free recharging included - No key pickup - your phone is the key - No long walk to find your car - premium locations in airports & city centers - Exactly the car you wanted - All-electric, all-digital experience with TESLA Model S, the new NISSAN Leaf, Jaguar I-Pace, TESLA Model 3, and more to come. - 24/7 support
Unlock and drive your car with UFODRIVE app, the fastest, easiest way to rent a car today.
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!
Our Start-up of the Week is UFO Drive, a mobility player founded in Luxembourg by an Irishman with big plans to revolutionise the car rental industry. “UFO Drive delivers an amazing customer experience to what is often a frustrating experience: renting a car,” explained company founder Aidan McClean.
“It’s a revolutionary new mobility solution delivering 100pc digital on-demand car rental; fast-track rental with an entirely electric fleet. Our vision is to help accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable mobility by making the switch from internal combustion vehicles simple, easy and fast.” ‘Our cars are 100pc connected to our platform 24/7. This means there is no key for the customer and all aspects of the rental experience are managed through your smartphone AIDAN MCCLEAN
The start-up is already up and running in Luxembourg, Brussels and Hamburg, and is about to launch in Dublin. “Using just a smartphone, you can book and drive a premium electric vehicle at very convenient pick-up locations such as airports and prime city centre ‘UFO Bays’. We currently offer the Tesla Model S, Jaguar I-Pace and the new Nissan Leaf.”
McClean said the company is aiming to serve those who just want to ‘arrive and drive’ without any of the hassle of renting a car, such as queueing, paperwork, selling of extras, insurance options and collecting the key. “We are targeting regular repeat travellers, business travel and those with an environment awareness wishing to make the shift to electric vehicles.” He said that the global car rental market is worth $70bn and growing. “Our segment presents a significant opportunity at the mid, executive and VIP levels.”
The founder McClean spent 25 years in financial services and was originally an accountant. “But I found that too exciting,” he joked. “I moved to technology solutions and have specialised in delivering big technology transformation programmes in banking and insurance. “Both myself and partner, Renaud Marquet, are passionate about using tech to add real value to the customer. “Our focus is on delivering great, time-saving UX while maximising the efficiency of service delivery from a cost and lean process perspective.”
He continued: “Our mobility platform is designed around the minimal user interface possible. Customers can reserve and drive in two minutes. All aspects of the rental platform are automated, including booking, rental contract, car opening, inspection and the return process. “Car reservation takes just three clicks and our app is designed to take the ‘fear of the unknown’ out of driving an electric car. We deal with the so called ‘range anxiety’ though an electric vehicle analytics back-office module to ensure the customer never has to worry about where and when to charge on their journey. “Our cars are 100pc connected to our platform 24/7. This means there is no key for the customer and all aspects of the rental experience are managed through your smartphone. What we have launched so far is just the beginning. We are investing on a much wider mobility platform focused on electric cars, charging and journey management. “Our goal is not just to rent cars but to be the go-to platform for the coming electric revolution.”
Picture by melvinkobe.com for UFODRIVE
So far, McClean said that UFO Drive has been overwhelmed and encouraged by the customer feedback it has received. “Customer growth has beaten our expectation to date and repeat customers are growing steadily." “Customer adoption of our electric cars has been much better than expected and our customers have driven from Luxembourg as far as Berlin, Warsaw, Milan and even Connemara without incident. In fact, out of almost 1,000 journeys we had just one customer issue relating to the electric vehicle. We have now also opened in Brussels Airport, Hamburg Airport and, soon, Dublin city centre. “We are currently working on a big expansion strategy for 2019 and are finalising plans for a funding round to help us accelerate growth.” McClean said that the challenges faced by the company have been the typical start-up challenges. “It is not so easy to source good developers with the essential ingredient of ‘cop on’. For our airport locations, most have been very receptive to our product and of great help, but unfortunately not all are as progressive so progress is never as fast as I would like.”
Starting up and taking off The start-up scene in Europe is also revving its engines. “Since starting UFO Drive, we have been immersed into this world. The number of great ideas starting up out there is astonishing. “Although I’m Irish, I have lived in Luxembourg for the past six years and we decided to start up in Luxembourg first. The support and encouragement from the Luxembourg authorities has been excellent and the local business community are always eager to help good ideas. “I think a simpler, integrated, EU-wide start-up support infrastructure would be of great help to those looking to establishment in multiple EU countries. It’s very different from state to state right now, and that slows you and adds complexity. Simply put, some countries are better than others by a big margin when it comes to start-up support.” His advice to start-up founders is to get customer feedback early on. “Be focused on your idea and market, but don’t fall in love with your own plan; be prepared to pivot as doors close and opportunities arise. Speak to as many start-ups as you can – that’s invaluable and usually free. Think big, start small and move fast, very fast. Try prototyping your idea or product on the cheap, and test customer reaction if you can before you embark. “One big issue is the competition for funding in the venture capital world – it’s very crowded right now so pick your timing well, otherwise you can burn a lot of time. “I want to see Ireland thrive, but pick the right locations for your start-up. Don’t be afraid of our EU neighbours. Language is not an issue – I speak Dublinish and that works!”
UFO Drive’s vision for electric car rental is out of this world by John Kennedy
In-Depth: Start-up of the Week Related: EVs, Europe, entrepreneurs, apps, autotech, funding and investment, smartphones, Tesla, transport Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.