Mobilize, Renault’s weapon to establish itself in the uncertain mobility industry

A new plan for Renault’s mobility subsidiary. The French auto group is again trying to structure its service offering with a plan for Mobilize, the mobility arm that was created in January 2021 when the strategic plan Renaulution was announced.

“Mobilize inverts the classic car industry equation by starting from services that meet customer needs to arrive at the product,” Renault explained in a press release published Tuesday.

Led by Clotilde Delbos, this entity aims to tackle the unsolvable issue of ending car ownership in favor of use, an activity that has so far never found its economic model, apart from the very traditional long-term rental. It is a question of providing mobility solutions, but also services, while relying on the car as the repository of this new economic model. “Vehicle as a service” (VaaS) is Renault’s answer to the concept of Mobility as a Service (MaaS), which refers to applications that bring mobility operators together to provide a multimodal experience.

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

Moreover, this is the only originality of Mobilize, this BtoB approach inherited from the technological acquisitions by RCI Bank (Karhoo, Bipi, Glide, the so-called DMS dispatchers such as Yuso and Iccabi). It is about proposing a package of services for mobility operators, VTC platform, taxis, online reservations…

Highly profitable RCI Bank becomes Mobilize Financial

However, the other important pillar of the Mobilize strategy remains the so-called leasing activity. This branch gradually took over the highly lucrative financing subsidiary RCI Bank, which renamed itself Mobilize Financial Services. The latter is accelerating in financial engineering by expanding its financing offering, particularly through LOAs (Leases with an Option to Buy), but will expand this offering to include insurance and financing products.

Finally, Mobilize will offer aggregated services around charging stations by facilitating access to different networks. Final stone, a maintenance and repair offer will be offered… Mobilize even goes so far as to offer to overhaul the vehicles.

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

A fairly classic model

But the Mobilize project could ultimately derive most of its growth from leasing activities. According to Renault’s forecasts, this will represent a fleet of one million vehicles by 2030, compared to 350,000 in 2021. The activities of mobility operators should also experience very strong growth with 150,000 to 200,000 cars in 2030 compared to 8,000 today, but will remain secondary. Moreover, the first business model is already well established and generates strong profit margins, while the second is still trying to optimize the overly high cost structure.

Finally, after the acquisition of Share Now by Free2Move, the subsidiary of Stellantis, last week Mobilize will have to deal with a new giant with a fairly similar model (leasing, service and mobility operator). The new entity now has nearly 5 million customers.

New attempt

It is not the first time that Renault has tried to structure its mobility offer. In the mid-2010s, the French manufacturer entrusted its financing subsidiary (already) RCI Bank with building an ecosystem of startups around alternative mobility. This then multiplies the gains, including the most spectacular, the VTC Marcel platform needed to drive in Zoé. In 2019, the Renault group launched MAI (mobility as an Industry) to review this strategy. But the structure does not survive the fall of Thierry Bolloré in November of the same year. Also thanked the head of mobility services at Alliance level, who was poached by Carlos Ghosn from the BCG, Hadi Zablit.

However, the arrival of Luca de Meo revives the group’s interest in mobility. The former boss of Seat is convinced that the manufacturer should get this profession back in his hands. With the appointment of the head of Mobilize, the group’s number two, Clotilde Delbos, he demonstrates the importance of this branch in Renault’s growth ambitions. After the resale of the VTC Marcel at the end of 2020, Renault therefore had to look for a strategic roadmap in the field of mobility.