Creating a Sustainable Community
Updated: Aug 17
Interview - An inside look at MILES
A long-standing partnership between MILES and Ubiq finally gave us the chance to welcome Jan F. Gebauer, Vice President Operations and Samir Nashmi, Head of Operations, in Vienna. In between workshops and tours through the city, we had the chance to talk about their development from a purely carsharing provider to a mobility provider, about their operational processes and future possibilities.
Hi Jan, hi Samir. Thank you for taking your time.
Let’s start easy. What would you say makes MILES special, and how do you differentiate from other providers?
SAMIR: MILES’ journey from underdog to thoughtleader in the carsharing industry is truly unique. We have always been OEM independent, which has both its challenges and advantages. It allows us to be highly flexible and agile in our decision-making and processes. This flexibility enables us to adapt quickly to changing market dynamics and customer needs.
JAN: Exactly. And the overall sustainability plays a significant role due to this independence. It's an integral part of our company culture and drives our decisions at every level. Not only offering a product which is ecologically sustainable is crucial, but also to run an economically successful business. We accomplish this through extensive efforts in all departments.
SAMIR: And we follow two key approaches: data-driven and use-case driven. Our products range from short-term free-float sharing to long-term rentals and car subscriptions, offering the right car for every situation. Our kilometer-based payment model in carsharing is an example for this user-based orientation, it ensures fairness and eliminates time pressure.
You mentioned car subscription. This seems to be a hot topic at the moment. What does that mean, also in comparison to leasing?
JAN: Our car subscription model is different from traditional leasing, which usually locks customers into a long-term commitment of around 4 years. Instead, we offer flexibility, allowing customers to rent a vehicle between 2 months and 24 months. There's not even the need to decide upfront how long you'll need the car. You can rent a car e.g. just for summer where you are planning to do a lot of trips and if you decide spontaneously you need it another months, it is possible.
SAMIR: In a subscription model all costs related to the vehicle, including insurance and taxes are covered. The only additional expense for customers is the fuel/energy.
Coming back to your carsharing product. How does MILES ensure the availability of its vehicles? How do you ensure an available refueled fleet? What kind of operational intelligence stands behind it?
SAMIR: Regarding the availability of our vehicles, MILES relies on a data-driven approach. We continuously analyze data to identify the best locations and the number of cars required at different times. This enables us to provide a seamless experience for our users, with cars available when they open the app. To achieve this, we manage many processes in-house, but also collaborate with external providers like you.
An available car is one thing, what about fueling, loading and cleaning of the vehicles?
SAMIR: We incentivize our customers to charge or refuel the vehicles. Currently, a high percentage of fueling is done by customers themselves, as for charging, we primarily handle it with our internal teams and are also exploring partnerships with external providers. The handling of EVs is an operational challenge. An EV requires more frequent charging than a combustion engine fueling and the charging process takes longer compared to fueling. This longer downtime affects potential revenue. And the lack of charging infrastructure, especially enough DC chargers, is still a challenge. To ensure a smooth operation and good availability of our fleet in the cities where we operate, we advocate for not having parking costs.
JAN: Regarding the vehicle cleaning, we adopt various approaches. We have in-house cleaning operations and collaborate with external partners. Based on specific data points and individual feedback from users, we differentiate between inside and inside & outside cleanings.
You mentioned the cities regulations. What support would you want to get from a city?
JAN: We are in constant exchange with city officials and the policymakers both in potential new cities and existing MILES cities. Some cities already have progressive regulations and actively support carsharing expansion, particularly in parking-related rules. Specific support includes no parking costs, allowing carsharing in residential areas, creating dedicated carsharing spaces, and suspending maximum parking durations. However, some cities face challenges in adopting these regulations. Nevertheless, we remain optimistic - good things take time.
How would you describe the community aspect within MILES?
JAN: The MILES Community is a key aspect of our success. We have become a love brand, and people don't just rent a car; they rent a MILES. And they know we are reliable. When they need a flexible mobility solution, we are there. I think it's the same with your StreetCrowd community. It's common sense: we don't need to own cars. We share cars and are still free and flexible.
SAMIR: And we also value our customers’ feedback and suggestions to refine and improve our services. After all, who better to understand their needs and preferences than the very people who use our service?
Looking into the future, what is happening? What is new to talk about?
SAMIR: Looking ahead, we are constantly challenging ourselves to become more efficient and automated. Our goal is to develop new features that improve the customer experience and make our services more intuitive. We want to expand to more cities and convince more people that owning a car is not necessary anymore.
Thank you, Jan. Thank you Samir. Ubiq is glad to be able to contribute to your goals and achievements.
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