Mobilize, Renault’s weapon to establish itself in the insecure mobility business

A new plan for Renault’s mobility subsidiary. The French car group is once again trying to structure its service offering with a plan dedicated to Mobilize, its mobility department set up in January 2021, when Renaulution’s strategic plan was announced.

“Mobilize overturns the classic equation for the automotive industry by relying on services that meet customer needs to reach the product,” Renault explained in a press release released Tuesday.

Led by Clotilde Delbos, this entity wants to tackle the insoluble issue of cessation of car ownership in favor of uses, an activity that has so far never found its economic model, apart from very traditional long-term rentals. It’s a matter of providing mobility solutions, but also services, while relying on the car as the container for this new economic model. “Vehicle as a service” (VaaS) is Renault’s response to the concept of Mobility as a Service (MaaS), which refers to applications that bring together mobility operators to offer a multimodal experience.

Thus, Renault will design models dedicated to this project. They will be 100% electric and will meet specifications to allow shared and intensive use. This point is crucial for limiting maintenance costs, a real stumbling block in past experience (Autolib for example …). Another model, Limo, will also be dedicated to a BtoB activity for VTC and taxi platforms.

This is also the only originality of Mobilize, this BtoB approach, inherited from the technological acquisitions of RCI Bank (Karhoo, Bipi, Glide, the so-called DMS dispatchers like Yuso and Iccabi). It will be a matter of proposing a range of services to mobility operators, VTC platform, taxis, online reservations …

The highly profitable RCI Bank will be Mobilize Financial

However, the other major pillar of the Mobilize strategy remains the so-called leasing activity. This branch thus gradually took over the very lucrative financing subsidiary, RCI Bank, which renamed itself Mobilize Financial Services. The latter is accelerating in the field of financing technology by expanding its financing offer, especially through LOAs (lease-purchase contracts), but will expand this offer with insurance and financing products.

Finally, Mobilize will provide aggregated services around charging stations by facilitating access to various networks. Last brick, an offer of maintenance and repair will be offered … Mobilize will even go so far as to offer to repair the vehicles.

The new division of Renault wants to drive the incredible 80% growth in the operational rental market and aims for one million rental cars in 2030 and 200,000 subscriptions, thus representing 20% ​​of the group’s revenue. The group also expects an operating margin from 2025.

A rather classic model

But the Mobilize project was eventually able to pull most of its growth around leasing activities. According to Renault’s forecasts, this will represent a fleet of one million vehicles in 2030 compared to 350,000 in 2021. Mobility operator activities should also experience very strong growth of 150,000 to 200,000 cars in 2030 compared to 8,000 today, but will remain secondary. In addition, the first business model is already well established and generates strong profits, while the second still seeks to optimize the cost structure that is considered high.

Finally, Mobilize will face a new giant with a fairly similar model (leasing, service and mobility operator) following the acquisition of Share Now by Free2Move, the subsidiary of Stellantis, last week. The new device now has almost 5 million customers.

New attempt

This is not the first time that Renault is trying to structure its mobility offer. In the mid-2010s, the French manufacturer entrusted its financing subsidiary (already) RCI Bank with the task of building an ecosystem of startups around alternative mobility. This then multiplies the acquisitions, including the most spectacular, VTC Marcel platform it requires to run in Zoé. In 2019, the group launched Renault MAI (Mobility as Industry) to review this strategy. But the structure does not survive the fall of Thierry Bolloré in November of that year. The head of Alliance-level mobility services, who had been poached by Carlos Ghosn of BCG, Hadi Zablit, is also thanked.

However, the arrival of Luca de Meo revives the group’s interest in mobility. The former head of Seat is convinced that the manufacturer needs to regain control of this profession. By appointing the head of Mobilize, the group’s number two, Clotilde Delbos, he shows the importance that this branch has in Renault’s growth ambitions. Following the resale of VTC Marcel at the end of 2020, Renault therefore had to find a strategic roadmap in relation to mobility.