SPLT Sketches Plans to Add Carshare Model to Prep for Autonomous Future

SAN DIEGO — There is “a lot of money” in fleet management, which is why SPLT is planning another shift in its business model to include carsharing, Kristin Welch, the startup’s head of business development and corporate strategy, said at Auto Finance Innovation 2017 last week.

“We are working with a large European fleet company on a model to increase fleet utilization — that whole 5% usage, 95% stationary problem that autos usually have on single owners,” she told attendees. “But we are very focused on the ownership shift. If the future is that OEMs own the car, or if the future is that fleet management companies own the car — there are going to be a number of winners along the way, and models we need to try.”

To that end, SPLT is working to eventually shift its model from business-to-business to B2B2C, Welch said, particularly in preparation for autonomous cars. The startup is “in talks” with OEMs to add carsharing to SPLT’s offering, she added, meaning that after coworkers carpool to work via SPLT’s flagship platform, they could then list the vehicle up for carshare while at work for other consumers or enterprises to rent.

“We are focused on not who owns the car, but if you own it, let’s get people in it,” she said. “In the U.S. alone there are all of these millions of miles driven by millions of commuters every day with empty seats in the car — and not to mention an empty trunk that we can fill with product, which is also in our view to the future.”

Founded in 2014, Detroit-based SPLT started out as a typical rideshare service, but — with advisement from the Techstars accelerator program — pivoted to a B2B model. The startup’s platform creates a commuting community for coworkers, instead of pairing riders up with strangers. Companies are charged an annual fee to provide the platform to employees. Besides enterprise carpooling, SPLT also provides non-emergency medical transportation. The startup partnered with Lyft last year to allow seniors in Michigan request transportation to and from appointments.

No matter who owns the vehicle — or who has financed it — SPLT plans to help fill it, and help everyone make more money along the way, she said. “We believe that in the near-term — and even in the mid-term solution, before we get to the autonomous vehicle — is actually the carsharing world,” Welch said.

As vehicles become increasingly connected and even autonomous — picking up passengers, dropping them off, then going somewhere to park for the rest of the day — corporations do not need to support the building and maintenance of more and more service lots and parking garages, Welch said.

“We’d like them to pool, then carshare, and then prepare for an autonomous future,” she said. “SPLT will hopefully be part of that discussion all along the way in developing a product, because if you create this platform and it is malleable, then you can slot it in in all of these different stages of mobility overtime. That’s what we are hoping to do at SPLT.”

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