An SME who established a fully electric taxi service in Estonia in 2012 has now developed a logistics and information system that is specifically designed for the needs of electric vehicles (EVs). Having adopted the system itself and constantly improving it based on their daily operations, the SME now seeks to scale up the solution by offering it to other EV taxi operators.The SME is looking for joint venture, license and services agreements, but is also open to other cooperation opportunities.
Currently, one of the main challenges in taking EVs into use more widely in the taxi industry is that service providers are not able to come up with a feasible business model that mitigates the high capital costs of buying EVs. As such, most service providers continue to use conventional cars that are not environmentally sustainable. According to the Estonian SME, one way of solving this challenge is to offer logistics and information software to taxi service providers that helps to optimize EV taxi rides and charging times. In order to increase the attractiveness and profitability of using EVs, this system will not assign only one fixed driver to a car, but use a shift-based logic that determines the most suitable car, route, charging stations and clients for the driver.
In response to this, the SME has developed an innovative modular software that focuses on the needs of EV taxi service providers and, at the moment, supports the following functionalities:
• Client’s app + portal
• Driver’s app
• Dispatching workspace
• Call center interface
• Administration tools
• Automation (archiving etc.)
• REST API (application program interface that uses HTTP requests to GET, PUT, POST and DELETE data) for 3rd party map applications
• Data interface (DDP) for 3rd part client apps
• Driver’s workspace
• Car surveillance (in alpha testing)
The platform has a client app and portal which can be customized to meet local requirements and needs. The app is mostly targeted at families and business clients for managing their "teams" - adding group members, making prepayments and requesting credit, getting summary reports and invoices. The client can mark waypoints, select addresses from history, copy previous rides and give feedback about the ride.
Besides the client side, the platform also has a driver's app, which was designed to require minimum attention from the driver and give the system a full understanding of what happens in the car. The driver has one-touch access to everything that is important in the particular phase of service provision.
The platform is meant to work in collaboration with human dispatchers. It can operate in two possible ways: either the driver logs in and starts working or the dispatcher starts the driver's shift by handing out a car, tablet, bank terminal etc. The latter is a neat feature if the company needs precise statistics: what the turnover of every single driver was, how many hours the driver was working, how much electricity was used by driver and so on. This is extremely helpful when choosing the drivers.
The platform is specifically designed to coordinate EVs. This involves an important parameter: the battery. The administrator can specify a set of battery parameters to ensure that the car will receive orders that can be completed. It is important that the cars will do as much work in one shift in as minimum charging times as possible. It takes less time to charge when the battery is warm and empty. But it is also costly to order a trailer if the driver runs empty. There is a very fine balance between the two of these and the platform will offer its help in striking this.
The SME is open to various cooperation opportunities, but is most notably interested in:
•Joint venture agreements – collaborating on a temporary project to develop or pilot the system in new EV taxi service provision contexts.
•License agreements – finding a buyer (i.e. taxi operator) interested in using the software independently based on a license.
•Services agreements – finding a buyer interested in the SME’s product as well as the accompanying service, i.e. the SME will keep on mediating and supporting the functioning of the system in another EV taxi operator's context.
- Specific area of activity of the partner: The platform has been specifically designed to the needs and peculiarities of electric vehicles (EVs) and as such, is targeted at electric taxi service providers and operators. These can either be SMEs or large companies - the platform will be modified accordingly. The company is mainly open to licensing (selling the right to use a copy of the platform), but also joint venture opportunities that might help advance and scale up the product. They also provide the system as a service (online access to the platform along with IT support). The monthly fees depend on the number of EVs involved.
The software is innovative as it is specifically designed for the needs of electric taxi service providers. The main value proposition of the solution is summarized below.
The platform can avoid unnecessary rides for the operator by carefully monitoring cars in a specific area and using them for the next clients. There is no reason to send more vacant cars to a region where one or more drivers are about to complete their rides. The solution is based on a clever logistical algorithm. It is most important to find a balance between convenience and economic benefit.
THE ECOLOGICAL APPEAL
Most of us are environmentally aware and understand that the small power plant that each car engine actually is is a bad idea in the most inhabited areas. The proposed software takes advantage of electric cars that use renewable energy.
We cannot deny the appeal of eco-friendly transportation. Furthermore, the economic advantage of the transit cost is an important factor. The price of every electric kilometer is a fraction of what it would cost with an ordinary car.
The platform has its own app for clients, but the real benefit is interoperability, i.e. integration with other client apps. While starting the business, the operator can team up with others to cover the service area. If a company has the app but cannot provide a car, the potential client will probably uninstall the app. It is thus very important to find good partners.
Already on the market - The SME itself adopted the platform in 2015, implementing it with more than 150 drivers and 50 cars. Since then, the software has helped to serve more than 65,000 clients in more than 550,000 rides. The app is currently available as an Android version, but an iOS version will soon follow.
Clasificado como: Transport on Land
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