RideConnect to Merge Rideshare, Carshare With New Model

In a shared-use transportation market that is becoming increasingly saturated with startups, RideConnect is taking a new approach.

The rideshare broker looks to offer a hybrid model, combining peer-to-peer carsharing and ridesharing into one offering this fall, Mobility Buzz has learned.

This hybrid model will allow car owners to temporarily loan their car out to another person — the same way Turo operates — except that the other person will then be able to use that car for ridesharing purposes using RideConnect’s platform.

This new model will allow drivers to not only use revenue generated from carsharing to pay off monthly loan or lease payments, but also generate revenue from ridesharing.

Dallas, Texas-based RideConnect works as an intermediary between rideshare drivers and consumers. Think of it as Airbnb for ridesharing, where the company does not operate a fleet of vehicles or use contractors, but instead allows drivers and riders to connect.

“We aren’t running the carshare service but making it available to other people,” Santosh Krishnan, founder and chief executive, told Mobility Buzz. Operating since 2015, the current version of RideConnect is free, but can only be used for private carpooling between friends or coworkers.

The second version — dubbed RideConnect 2.0 — will be available by November and will include a tiered subscription plan that opens RideConnect to a larger market of users; it will also include the hybrid model.

Similar models exist, like Zipcar’s partnership with Uber, except the RideConnect business model is likely to make it a more affordable option. RideConnect does not take a percentage of a driver’s overall trip fair, the way Uber and Lyft do, but instead will offer a subscription model.

The first tier — which is free and currently the only tier in operation — is the private network of ridesharing between friends and coworkers. The second tier will allow certain features, such as ride-hailing, scheduling rides, and certain safety functions, to be purchased a la carte. The third tier will be a monthly $9.99 plan that bundles all the features together but still operates only for a private network.

And a fourth tier exists for the serious commercial drivers, and would cost between $300 and $400 a month, Krishnan said. RideConnect expects a commercial driver to be someone driving for five to six hours a day. The commercial plan will allow a subscriber to include multiple drivers — meaning an independent rideshare could be created under the RideConnect umbrella. Currently, there is no limit to how many drivers could be included in that plan, Krishnan said.

Separately, RideConnect is in “final discussion” with insurance providers, Krishnan said. “Based on our research so long as we stay in the brokering space we don’t move into the rideshare insurance space,” Krishnan said. But with RideConnect’s new version, the company will need to implement ridesharing insurance, he added.

Insurance agencies have developed specialized rideshare insurance for drivers, which RideConnect does not have to purchase, but it could pay for the policies — in an effort to encourage drivers to sign up to the platform, Krishnan said.

“Right now we are figuring out how to package this,” he said. For example, the insurance could be included at no additional charge for certain subscriptions — such as the commercial driver tiers, while lower tiers would allow drivers the option to purchase insurance.

Currently, RideConnect is globally available through its app, and has had 400 downloads across Texas, Canada, and India; there are 150 monthly recurring users.

To learn more about the evolution of transportation, join us at the second annual Auto Finance Innovation 2017 conference, May 17-18 at the Hilton Bayfront in San Diego. Visit www.autofinanceinnovation.com to register or learn more.

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