Bosch is entering the ridesharing business with its acquisition of Splitting Fares Inc. (SPLT), a US start-up based in Detroit. SPLT operates a platform that allows companies, universities, and municipal authorities to offer their workforces ridesharing services. The B2B approach is designed especially for commuters. Bosch aims for growth well into double digits.
SPLT uses an app to connect people who share the same route to their place of work or study. An algorithm finds the best composition for the ride-share, and computes the fastest route. The aim is to reduce congestion and make the daily commute more relaxed. SPLT was founded in 2015. Some 140,000 users in the United States, Mexico, and Germany currently take advantage of the service. It has been agreed that the purchase price will not be disclosed.
Increasingly, smartphones are becoming the most important means of travel.—Dr. Markus Heyn, member of the Bosch board of management
Ridesharing, in which digital services and apps are used to form carpools and to organize vehicle sharing and taxis, is a growth market in the connected mobility sector. By 2020, the number of people worldwide using rideshares is expected to rise 60% to 685 million (source: Statista). Up to now, the services available have usually directly targeted people who happen to be traveling in the same direction, and who want to book a ride on the spur of the moment. They have not focused so much on companies and commuters; however, it is precisely here that there is huge potential.
According to the German Federal Motor Transport Authority, there are more than 60 million vehicles on Germany’s roads alone. The number of commuters is rising: according to the German Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs, and Spatial Development, three out of five workers do not work in their home cities. And for roughly two-thirds of the working population, the car is the first choice of transport for the daily commute, according to the German Federal Statistical Office. Worldwide, the result is the same: rush-hour traffic is frequently gridlocked. Millions of commuters find themselves stuck in traffic every day. A further problem is that drivers usually sit alone in their cars. Carpooling is still the exception. This is where SPLT’s solution comes in.
Companies, universities, or municipal authorities enable access to the SPLT platform for their employees, who then download the SPLT app, register, and look for or offer a rideshare. Bookings can be made on the spur of the moment or in advance. Arrival times are displayed in real time, and costs are shared among colleagues and charged online. The B2B service is intended for users who travel the same route each day.
One advantage of this is that rides are shared by colleagues, which means users never have to get in the car with complete strangers. As a side benefit, such rideshares encourage communication and offer a chance to network. Company buses can also be integrated into the app, and in this way be used more flexibly and efficiently. The result is a journey to work and back without stress, at low cost, and with little environmental impact. Companies can also play a role in reducing traffic volume.
Within Bosch itself, associates in Mexico are already using the app, and it is planned to extend its use to the entire company.