Home / Tech  / From private car to shared network: How the growth of Mevo could break our love for privately owned vehicles

From private car to shared network: How the growth of Mevo could break our love for privately owned vehicles

Despite the terrible contribution to fatalities, congestion, pollution, and cost – privately owned cars remain our most loved form of transport. The sexy topic of traffic congestion fills conversation at bars, dining rooms, and workplaces, yet the privately owned motor vehicle – undoubtedly the biggest cause of traffic congestion – remains worshipped. While car ownership is a global issue, New Zealand has a particular obsession with cars. According to ehinz data, we sit in the fourth largest car ownership rate in the world, with a tracked 774 light vehicles per 1000 people in 2016.

However, despite such high deployment of private vehicles, they have a concerningly low output.

“If you think of the average vehicle being used four percent of the time – Mevo is being used more than five times as much,”said Zydervelt.

This year – in partnership with the Wellington Council – Mevo released Australasia’s first car free-floating scheme, which enables users to drop their rented Audi A3 e-tron plug-in hybrid vehicle across any metered parking spot across the capital city.

“It is hyper convenient and really cool to do it before Melbourne or Sydney. What we have seen internationally is that this is 100 percent the way the world is going and really sets us up for the introduction autonomous vehicles in the future.”

While public transport should be the best alternative, many feel ambivalent about Auckland’s decrepit bus system. Not to mention Wellington’s anti-bus furore. Plus, Mevo offers mobility to those who want to nip down the road, head across the city, or venture into the provinces.

Zydervelt says, “In terms of the movement away from private single use vehicles, people have cars because while they are barely ever used (approximately four percent of the time) they cover off a great deal of different types of trips we need to make.”

“Public transport is fantastic because it covers off some of the trip types really well, but all those trips have to be covered before someone is willing to give up their car.”

Zydervelt points to Vancouver, Madrid, Copenhagen, Seattle, Antwerp, and Berlin as some examples of cities where car-sharing has taken off, and subsequently, car ownership has lowered. Now, Wellington is reaping the benefits of a shared transport network.

“Wellington is known to be a progressive city who takes up tech quite quickly. Also, if you compared to what it would like if we launched in Auckland, Sydney, or Melbourne, it’s effectively a scale model.

“For relatively little capital we have been able to put down a really highly functioning service down that covers off the CBD and will move out to the inner suburbs quite quickly.”

It’s proved successful too, since May, Mevo boasts 120 percent increase in sign ups, sees a 150 percent increase in the number of trips made in its vehicles, and plans to double its fleet and expand to Auckland in 2019.                             

“Wellington was a chance to experiment, test, learn, and iterate until we got product market fit. Following the launch of free-floating it has been unequivocal, we have a product that people love, and our sign ups have gone through the roof.”

In some cases urban planners have shown action against private vehicles clogging the city space. Notably, in Auckland, where recent plans have declared car free-zones, money has been poured into cycle lanes, and new train and tram networks are in development. So, how does Mevo fit into these progressive city plans?

“A lot of these cities such as Paris and Madrid have similar bold goals and visions – there is still need for the type of trips that cars support that, but the way we access cars doesn’t necessarily have to stay the same. A lot of these cities are using micro mobility and car sharing as well as other options to supplement public transport to achieve these goals.”

“They are not truly car-free zones, they are private car free zones. People still need access to a car here and there and for those trips they are shared cars which are used five times as much effectively. It is one of those things that as a human I love car free zones, but I want to make sure people have the freedom to move around and shared cars will support that.”

A big part of the plan to discourage private vehicles is a wider initiative to aid the pollution of the city. It’s also a big part of Mevo, who hopes to cut down green-house gas emissions and “reverse climate change.”

“We are the world’s first climate positive car share, our cars are hybrids, which have a huge reduction of emissions. What is going out is a fraction of the journey than using another mode of the transport. Every trip our members take not only reduces emissions but sequesters more carbon than is emitted.”

Another key attribute to Mevo is the comparative cost to car ownership. An aspect Zydervelt believes could reshape the culture of cities.

“We enrich culture, if you look at the average cost of ownership in Wellington for a car it is about $10,500 a year, in Auckland it is north of $13,000, our members are saving 75 percent and achieving the same mobility.

“So that’s paying the mortgages, taking another holiday, going out to brunch a little bit more, or supporting local artists – we can take the cost of living down.  Also, for every car that we put down about 10 vehicles are taken off the road, so that means less traffic and allowing people to do the things they want – it also means more space for our cities.”

As Mevo enjoys a summer growth spurt, Zydervelt is careful not to be complacent. As technological development will likely see autonomous fleets,  it will need to iterate.

“I think transport right now is at the same stage as when the first iPhone was launched in terms of the impact on the world. I think it will be one of the most exciting transitions for our world that our generation will see.

“Every decision we make at Mevo, we ask ourselves how does this set us up for an autonomous future? If you think about it, Netflix used to send out DVDs knowing that streaming would happen, and when streaming did, they were ready to go.”

Review overview