The head of PSA Group's new mobility unit, Brigitte Courtehoux, is leading the automaker into "a totally new environment." With products such as its Free2Move car-sharing app, PSA has entered a sector where customer relationships need to be nurtured around the clock. That is something most automakers are just starting to master. She outlined what PSA is doing to succeed as a mobility provider in an interview with Automotive News Europe Correspondent Peter Sigal.
How is selling mobility services different to selling vehicles?
We are now involved in a totally new environment for us. Mobility services mean a 24/7 customer relationship, with round-the-clock availability and a seamless experience for highly demanding customers. We are also leveraging a radically different customer acquisition channel. Take the example of our Emov car-sharing in Madrid -- more than 10,000 customers had already enrolled in the service before it had even been launched. As soon as your app is available in the Apple Store or the Google Play Store, the news spreads throughout the Internet. Also, the relationship to the cities is very important because car-sharing services help them manage their citizens' mobility, and it is in their interest to have you grow. It's an ecosystem of its own. Looking at Free2Move [PSA's car-sharing app], it gives you access to multiple mobility service providers. These providers might seem like competitors but they are not. Car-sharing is more about creating a market than competing against one another, at this point.
For big cities, the logic behind car-sharing is clear. What about midsize or smaller cities?
We know it will be more difficult to be profitable in midsize cities. We will need the support of local governments, for example, by allocating parking spaces to shared vehicles. Car-sharing is also a way for a city to generate revenue out of its car fleet. These cars are driven by city staff during weekdays and can be rented to private customers through a car-sharing platform on weeknights and weekends. We keep in mind that we now work in a collaborative ecosystem, which allows us to share the costs and the revenues.
How does PSA Group justify big investments in mobility when the revenues are a fraction of making, selling and servicing cars?
This is a strategic choice. If autonomous cars arrive, we will need to be in the mobility market to avoid losing our relationship with the customer. We want to provide solutions that customers will need. Having said that, I need to be profitable. In 2021, we will generate 300 million euros in revenue [as targeted by PSA Group's Push to Pass strategic plan]. Taking all our mobility services into account, we will achieve significant profitability.