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Richard Sareczky, Mol Limo: "We look at expansion locations across CEE including Romania"

Consumer mobility behaviour is changing, leading to up to one out of ten cars sold in 2030 potentially being a shared vehicle and the subsequent rise of a market for fit-for-purpose mobility solutions, says Richard Sareczky, managing director of Mol Limo.

2018-12-19 09:57:42

"Consumer preferences, tightening regulations for owning a car and technological innovations add up to an essential shift in individual mobility behaviour," he tells The Diplomat-Bucharest. "People increasingly use multiple modes of transportation to complete their journey and goods and services are increasingly delivered to (rather than fetched by) consumers. As a result, the traditional business model of car sales will be complemented by a range of diverse on-demand mobility solutions, especially in dense urban environments that proactively discourage private car use."

By the year 2030, Mol Limo estimates that the need for mobility will increase by 25 per cent. As a result, cities will become more crowded, polluted and noisy, with less space available for recreation and leisure. Systemic congestion damages the quality of life, causing environmental degradation and loss of economic productivity.

"Due to factors such as advancing technology, accelerating urbanization resulting in deteriorating congestion and air pollution, as well as a growing population of digital natives, we have already started to experience dramatic changes in urban mobility," Sareczky explains. "Car-sharing services, bike and scooter sharing providers are becoming omnipresent in many cities around the world. I believe this trend won't stop here. In the future, we are likely to see these service providers developing an integrated urban mobility model which works hand-in-hand with public transportation."

Mol established a mobility division within its consumer services business and aims to provide a variety of mobility services to its customers. In Budapest, the group recently introduced Mol Limo, a new car sharing service.

"We have a much broader, integrated mobility concept, which besides car sharing also includes fleet management and e-mobility pillars," says Sareczky.
He goes on to say that at some point autonomous vehicles will have a prominent position in urban transportation: "These are likely to transform mobility and car ownership. Car-sharing is only the first step for us and once self-driving cars spread out, we need to be able to capitalize on this trend. I think that adapting to these trends is the way forward for Mol in the countries where the company is present. Once this new environment becomes a norm, I am optimistic that we will be ready to take a leading role in the region."

Mol Limo was launched in Budapest at the beginning of the year. Since then, the company registered 39,000 users for the 450 cars that travelled more than two million kilometres, the average duration of a trip being 25 minutes.

Mol Limo has purchased another 150 cars and now has a fleet of 450 cars. The distance within which the drivers can use the service is 70 square kilometres in Budapest and the outskirts of the Hungarian capital.

"Since the service launch, 100 cars in our fleet are electric, but by 2020 we expect that all the cars will be EV, in line with the development of EV infrastructure. By 2020, we would also like to extend the area to other districts in Budapest as well," Sareczky adds. "Though we consider Mol Limo a success, we still need to evaluate further expansion opportunities. One of our strategic goals is to become a regional leader in mobility services, so obviously it would be a natural step for us. For now, the cities which we take into consideration for potential expansion are Zagreb, Prague and Bratislava. But we will also look at other locations across CEE including Romania."

Car sharing produced double-digit growth in recent years and there are already 5.8 million users of this service in Europe, sharing 68,000 cars, according to Sareczky.

"The annual cost of owning a car is around 6,500 Euro, yet it is not in use 95 per cent of the time, while a car used in car sharing can eventually replace ten privately owned cars," he explains. "Changes in consumer patterns such as the decreasing importance of car ownership along with increasing environmental consciousness are expected to result in increasing demand for car sharing services all over the world, which can significantly improve air quality and traffic congestion in already-very-crowded big cities. As early as 2030, more than one in three kilometres driven will be under one of the many forms of ‘sharing'."

Romania seems to be quite forward-thinking in terms of encouraging environmental policies, Sareczky says, as there is in place a governmental program for car replacement by 2019, with a 10,000 Euro incentive for the acquisition of a new electric car.

All the European countries are working on developing their EV infrastructure, while at the same time growing their national EV car fleet.

"If you consider changing customer habits and their increasing preference for eco-friendly solutions, an EV fleet is a great fit," says Sareczky. "We already have some EV chargers in Hungary and Romania and in the next few years we will significantly increase their number, partially as part of the Next-E consortium, which will build a charging network for EVs across six countries in Central and Eastern Europe: The Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia and Romania."
The NEXT-E project was selected by the European Commission for co-financing through the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF). The majority of the chargers will be located at MOL Group's service stations in all six participating countries.

In Romania, Mol plans to install 40 fast chargers located at Mol service stations.



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