Ford is going head-to-head with Zipcar as it launches its new GoDrive car rental service in London.
The app-based service will allow users to pick up one of Ford’s 50 vehicles on-demand and drop it off at one of a number of hubs across central London. When a users books a car through the service, they automatically book a parking spot at one the 20 available locations, making one-way trips stress-free.
The service uses a pay-per-minute pricing approach that covers all fees, including congestion fees, insurance and fuel. A pilot program launched earlier this year with 100 members. Ford is now extending GoDrive’s reach to 2,000 members.
The global car-sharing industry is expected to exceed $6 billion by 2020, and the U.K. car-sharing sector alone is expected to grow 23% from 2013 to 2015, according to PwC research. But even as the industry booms, car-sharers are looking for more flexibility.
“Our research tells us that car clubs currently are perceived as inflexible when it comes to booking, time slots and return locations,”said Alicia Agius, project lead, GoDrive, Ford of Europe. “Features such as one-way journeys and pay-as-you-go extend the number of opportunities that drivers would want to car-share and could prove a game-changer.”
GoDrive is Ford’s move to take on car-sharing kings like Zipcar as well as ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft which are trying to become realistic replacements for car ownership, especially in major metropolitan areas. The service is also an opportunity for Ford to show off its electric vehicles. Half of the GoDrive fleet will consist of zero-emission Focus electric models.
The London launch is still in beta phase, and the automaker plans to tweak its service as it learns more about its members. Ford (F) is also exploring car-sharing experiments in Germany, India and the U.S.