The Danish start-up arrived in the Finnish capital as the first and only electric car sharing service on the market. Starting out with 25 Renault Zoes in December, GreenMobility is looking to expand their fleet to 200 by the end of 2021 adding new zones and growing their local team as they strengthen their position within the local transportation offering. While some might say these goals are ambitious, GreenMobility is convinced that Helsinki provides all the framework and potential needed to reach them.
GreenMobility was founded in Copenhagen in 2016 as one of the only European vehicle sharing services investing entirely in electric cars. The service works via mobile app and is extremely simple to use: book a car, once within range the vehicle can be unlocked and you’re good to go! The fee is all inclusive, so customers need not worry about charging or parking fees. The company vision has been international from the start, and prior to the Finnish launch GreenMobility was already available in 6 cities: Copenhagen and Aarhus in Denmark, Malmö and Gothenburg in Sweden, Antwerp and Ghent in Belgium. Expanding to Helsinki was in the talks since early days.
HBH is the Helsinki whisperer for international businesses
It all started in 2017 and Helsinki Business Hub was along for the shared electric car ride from the very beginning. Launching a service such as GreenMobility’s requires quite a bit of setting up, and a knowledgeable and well-connected partner is a huge asset. In 2019 collaboration intensified and the service was launched on December 15th. Helsinki Business Hub was key in providing business and market insights and connections to potential partners as well as help and guidance with soft landing services, financing and recruitment.
“For a shared electric car service, it’s crucial to not only understand the business and how things in Finland work on a general level, but also to really understand the city. HBH was a really valuable local partner for us. They helped us determine our operational zones and assisted us with establishing the company, recruitment and finding the right kinds of partners like Helen for charging infrastructure and local garages for maintenance needs. They always answer fast, and they are always ready to assist and guide on all business-related matters!” International Project Manager Daniel Thorius describes.
Helsinki – forward-thinking, ever-growing, warmly inviting
As a Danish company it makes sense to have a strong foothold in Scandinavia’s largest cities. However, Helsinki was an attractive choice for more than geographical reasons.
“The city has a green agenda, and it is investing strongly in sustainable mobility options to reach its CO2-neutrality goal. Marketwise, the local sharing economy is booming, and the sharing community is already big in Helsinki. Digitally, Finland is wonderfully advanced and establishing a company here is fairly straightforward. Also, the local start-up scene is quite impressive, so we’re in good company,” Thorius explains.
GreenMobility joins the ever-growing number of MAAS service providers Helsinkians have grown accustomed to during the past few years. Thanks to shared electric vehicles – such as scooters, bikes and cars – and modern taxi alternatives gaining popularity, not to mention excellent local public transportation services, residents of Helsinki are being offered more and more mobility alternatives by the quarter. According to Thorius although service providers and products vary, the ideology behind these services is similar:
“It’s really a question about completing public transportation, not competing with it – GreenMobility is a supplement, not a substitution! Our concept works best when public transportation works well. Because in the end, we all have the same goal: to decrease private car use. People in Helsinki are used to these kinds of digitally operated transport services. The more choices there are, and the more accustomed users are to these options, the better it is for all us. In Helsinki it really is possible to live without a car, and we’re all working to make that choice more appealing.”
From small launch to big goals
Currently GreenMobility’s car sharing service offers 25 electric vehicles, and the start-up employs 5 people, including both full-time staff working at the local office, and part-time street crew responsible for vehicle maintenance etc. While original plans were more grandiose, the company ended up choosing a soft launch due to the pandemic taking its toll on mobility. Thorius sees the easy-going start as an opportunity:
“A smaller launch definitely has its advantages. We get the chance to familiarize ourselves with the area, the market and the customer base, tweak our service, and then scale up in an informed manner.”
Regardless of the scale of the launch, by no means is GreenMobility taking it slow. The company plans on reaching a fleet of 200 and a staff of 10 by the end of the year. The start-up is adding new zones to their map, and the electric car sharing service might well expand to include at least some industrial and airport-adjacent areas in Vantaa in the very near future.
“We have proven the concept in similar cities where it works really well, so we are very confident in the Helsinki area. So far, we have been greeted well and engagement has been good. In fact, we have already extended the reach of the service to include new zones within our first month. Although people are moving less right now, customers appreciate that they can socially distance themselves, but still choose an environmentally friendly and practical mode of transport. For others, this is a great opportunity to try out an electric car,” Thorius elaborates.
Writer: Ioanna Mavromichalis