SEAT has taken over the Spanish startup Respiro, a pioneering company in renting cars by the hour in the city of Madrid. With this acquisition, which is the first time SEAT has entered the carsharing market, the brand is making progress in becoming a benchmark mobility solutions provider. All of this through a proven business model which will also give the company its own solution in this alternative transport segment. In addition, with this move SEAT positions itself as the Volkswagen Group’s mobility services benchmark in southern Europe.
After signing the purchase agreement, SEAT President Luca de Meo pointed out that “Respiro is a project based on a business model with potential for the company and it enables us to continue making progress in our commitment to finding and developing solutions for future mobility that are sustainable and efficient.” At the same time, de Meo added that “this acquisition is the first step in our commitment to purchasing and participating in future projects that we feel are going to set trends in upcoming years.”
The President of SEAT is going to give further details about the transaction and future plans for the deal during the press conference being held next 26 February at 12:30 pm at the SEAT stand in Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress.
Moreover, SEAT Executive Vice-president for Finance, IT and Organisation Holger Kintscher highlighted that “this operation signals a great step forward for the brand, as it is the first time that SEAT commits to the purchase of a company. In addition, Respiro already has a proven business model and has high growth expectations.”
Founded in 2010 by Ian Paterson and Inés De Saralegui and with an annual turnover of 1.8 million euros in 2016, the platform operates on a pay-as-you-go basis. In order to access Respiro vehicles, users simply have to register in the platform and take possession of a membership card to make use of the cars. The company provides utilitarians, compact cars, people carriers and vans for personal and professional use through an extensive network of pick-up and drop-off points located in carparks all over Madrid. The company currently has 15,000 active users and a mixed fleet of 200 cars, including electric, hybrid, CNG, LGP and low emission versions, which will gradually be replaced with SEAT vehicles carrying the ECO label and fuelled with compressed natural gas.
SEAT’s participation in the project also signals a milestone for the Spanish startup, which will see its financial capacity strengthened to expand the business to new markets and will be supported by the carmaker’s know-how to improve the service. “The arrival of a strong company such as SEAT gives Respiro a substantial boost, as it will enable us to set up in other cities, explore new channels and even further develop the business model” said Respiro co-founder and director Inés De Saralegui.
Following the purchase, the entrepreneurial team made up of its cofounders, together with Francesc Delgado, a member of SEAT’s business development team, will lead the project and its 23 employees.
Leader in mobility solutions
With this operation, SEAT succeeds in developing and strengthening its carsharing strategy, taking a further step in its goal of becoming a benchmark as a mobility solutions provider. In this sense, the company already launched the Connected Sharing project in 2017, a carsharing service for the company’s more than 14,500 employees that enables them to use and share the available vehicles. This service has over 1,000 registered users and since it was implemented in June last year has maintained a 98% usage rate.
Likewise, SEAT has been operating the Metropolis:Lab Barcelona since 2017, its digital laboratory integrated in the Volkswagen Group’s worldwide IT lab network. This centre of excellence, whose aim is to analyse and find smart solutions for the challenges facing future mobility, has already spawned its first project: ‘About it’, an app that locates electric vehicle charging points, ‘bicing’ bikesharing parking locations or high accident rate blackspots in the city of Barcelona.
Along the lines of seeking new mobility formats, the company is soon going to launch an initiative whereby 10 units of the zero emissions eMii prototype will be made available as a carsharing project to employees at the SEAT Metropolis:Lab Barcelona and the Pier 01 Barcelona Tech City.