Circular economy

Self-service car sharing

By Stéphanie Jacob for L'Economiste | Updated on January 09, 2018

Reserved locations granted to Carmine by Casa Developement Carmine

Smart card for opening the vehicle doors Carmine

A client unlocking her vehicle Carmine

An expatriate satisfied with a service similar to the one he used in Italy Carmine

Carmine aims to integrate electric vehicles into its fleet Carmine

In mid-October 2017, Mohamed Mrani Alaoui launches a new concept of carsharing in Casablanca, open 24 hours a day - via its Carmine startup Carmine

Self-service car sharing has never seen before in Morocco. But now, after a successful pilot project in Casablanca in 2015, the service is rolling into cities across the nation. The name behind this alternative to car ownership is the start-up Carmine.

It’s the perfect match for modern day living : Self-service cars, by the hour or day, accessible 24/7 and with parking, fuel and insurance costs included. This, a first for Morocco, is on offer in Casablanca from the startup Carmine. Now that self-service bikes have rolled into the country, cars are following suit and offer a much-wanted service in the economic capital, burdened with increasing, chaotic traffic. The firm was created in 2014, and tested the waters with a pilot project in July 2015. According to CEO and founder Mohamed Mrani Alaoui, this was, “A period during which we really reached maturity.” There are a whole load of necessary stages when a start-up introduces a new product to the market—running trials on rates, defining parking spaces through a partnership with the city, personalizing technology and getting to know client needs. “People generally thought such a concept would not work in Morocco, an idea confirmed by the amount of time it took us to go into commercial operation. But that pilot period was about making the new service more effective. And then, the hardest part was to find funding. I started out alone with my own savings and we were extra careful until we found investors,” Mrani Alaoui added.

The deal was finalized when former Minister of Transportation Karim Ghellab signed up to the venture as an associate through his investment fund Massir Invest. This is the kind of backing that helped Carmine effectively expand in mid-October 2017. “We had had other leads before this, but given the capitalistic nature of our business, when an investor makes a proposition, it is usually a combination between the working capital it advances, leasing companies financing the vehicles, and the bank. Bringing these three parties together is very difficult.” To fathom the quality of the service, Carmine must take into account a sample of 40 individual users per shared vehicle; 3600 users in total for the 120 expected vehicles over a span of four years. Rates start at 30 MAD (US$ 3) per hour plus 1 MAD (10 US¢) per kilometer, with a subscription ranging between 290 MAD (US$ 31) for a quarter and 890 MAD (US$95) for a full year — fuel, insurance, and parking included.

Carmine’s corporate philosophy is about more than just offering vehicles and the founder is committed to working towards safer driving habits. In Carmine’s fleet of vehicles in-car technology saves all information related to clients’ driving, be it accelerations or decelerations, turns, speed, etc. When the vehicle runs at 80km/hr on a road where the limit is 60, the company is sent a warning. This information, which remains confidential, is then turned into grades. A client who gets less than 7 out of 10 is given a period of time to improve should they wish to retain their membership. And the other way around: people scoring more than 9 out of 10 benefit from special offers. “This is our way of inciting people to be careful on the road,” the CEO said.

Having trained in actuarial methods in Montreal, then in San Francisco, Mrani Alaoui has always seen himself as an entrepreneur. The idea of a shared car service came to him upon his return to Morocco. ‘I didn’t have a car when I got back to Casablanca. Coming back from the USA, where such services are widespread, while here [Morocco] nothing of this sort was in place, I set myself to work.’ The typical clientele interested in Mr. Alaoui’s service ranges from young professionals such as himself, to people in transit, families or companies in occasional need of a main or secondary vehicle, and university students. A car-sharing service totally suited to the collaborative economy, as is becoming more and more widespread throughout the world.

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Published on October 27, 2017
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