Mobilize, Renault’s weapon to assert itself in the business of indefinite mobility

New plan for Renault’s mobility subsidiary. The French automotive group is once again trying to structure its service offering with a plan dedicated to Mobilize, its mobility division, created in January 2021 when the Renaulution strategic plan was announced.

“Mobilize is reversing the classic equation in the automotive industry, from service that meets customer needs to product,” Renault explained in a press release published on Tuesday.

Led by Clotilde Delbos, this organization wants to tackle the intractable issue of moving from car ownership to use, an activity that still hasn’t found an economic model other than the very traditional long-term lease. It’s about providing mobility solutions as well as services, while relying on the car as the seat of this new economic model. Vehicle as a Service (VaaS) is Renault’s answer to Mobility as a Service (MaaS), which refers to applications that connect mobility operators to provide multimodal services.

Thus, Renault will develop models dedicated to this project. They will be 100% electric and will meet specifications to allow sharing and intensive use. This point is critical to limit maintenance costs, which is a real stumbling block in past experience (eg Autolib…). Another model, Limo, will also be designed for BtoB activity for the VTC and taxi platforms.

Also, this is Mobilize’s only originality, this BtoB approach inherited from RCI Bank’s technology acquisitions (Karhoo, Bipi, Glide, so-called DMS controllers like Yuso and Iccabi). It will be about offering a set of services for mobility operators, the VTC platform, taxis, online booking…

Highly profitable RCI Bank becomes Mobilize Financial

However, the other main pillar of the Mobilization strategy remains the so-called leasing activity. Thus, this branch gradually absorbed the highly profitable financial subsidiary of RCI Bank, which renamed itself Mobilize Financial Services. The latter is gaining momentum in financial engineering, expanding its financing offer, in particular through LOA (lease-to-own), but will expand this offer with insurance and financial products.

Finally, Mobilize will provide aggregated services around charging stations, facilitating access to different networks. The final brick, a proposal for maintenance and repair will be offered…Mobilize will even go so far as to offer to repair vehicles.

The new division of Renault wants to capitalize on the incredible 80% growth in the operational rental market and is aiming for 1 million rental cars in 2030 and 200,000 subscriptions, representing 20% ​​of the group’s turnover. The group also expects operating margins from 2025.

Pretty classic model

But the Mobilize project may ultimately draw most of its growth through leasing activities. Renault predicts that this will be a fleet of one million vehicles in 2030, up from 350,000 in 2021. Mobility operators should also grow significantly, from 150,000 to 200,000 vehicles in 2030, up from 8,000 today, but it will remain secondary. In addition, the first business model is already well established and provides a high rate of return, while the second is still trying to optimize the cost structure, which is considered too high.

Finally, Mobilize will have to face a new giant with a fairly similar model (leasing, maintenance and mobility operator) following the takeover of Share Now by Stellantis subsidiary Free2Move last week. Now the new organization has nearly 5 million customers.

New try

This is not the first time Renault has tried to structure its mobility offering. In the mid-2010s, the French manufacturer commissioned its financial subsidiary (already) RCI Bank to build a startup ecosystem around alternative mobility. This then multiplies the acquisitions, including the most impressive one, the VTC Marcel platform required to ride the Zoé. In 2019, the group launched Renault MAI (mobility as an industry) to redefine this strategy. But the building did not survive the fall of Thierry Bolloret in November of that year. They also thanked the head of mobility at the Alliance level, who was lured by Carlos Ghosn from BCG, Hadi Zablit.

However, the arrival of Luca de Meo revives the group’s interest in mobility. Former Seat boss is convinced that the manufacturer should regain control of the profession. By appointing Clotilde Delbos as head of Mobilize, number two in the group, he shows the division’s importance in Renault’s growth quest. Therefore, after the resale of VTC Marcel at the end of 2020, Renault needed to find a strategic roadmap in terms of mobility.