Ah, Paris. A city for artists, romantics and, if you ask Robin Chase, transportation geeks.
France is ahead of the curve in transportation technology, the Zipcar co-founder said in an interview on Bloomberg TV. Chase cited popular programs in Paris such as Velib, which has more than 20,000 bicycles for rent, and Autolib, which rents electric cars.
“People [in France] are thinking about sharing,” Chase said. “They are closer to the future of transportation than we are. There are more people who are car-independent, that don’t need a car to get to work.”
Chase pioneered hourly car rentals in the U.S. with Zipcar in 2000. The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company, which also rents vehicles for members in some Canadian, Spanish and U.K. cities, was bought by Avis Budget Group for $491 million earlier this year.
Buzzcar, Chase's latest startup that's based in Paris, allows people to rent out their own vehicles through the company’s website and mobile applications. While Zipcar limited its expansion to densely populated areas where its cars would be frequently used, Buzzcar can work anywhere because the company doesn’t have to purchase and maintain its own fleet of cars, she said.
But so far, France is one of the few places it does work. Buzzcar only recently started testing its service in New York after spending years trying to establish adequate auto-insurance coverage in the U.S., Chase said.
As other sharing-based tech businesses such as Zimride’s Lyft, Uber Technologies and Airbnb have learned, the future is not easily insured.