Vulog’s Shared Journey series gives you exclusive insights into how our clients are helping transform the new mobility industry.
October 18, 2021 After raising 3M€ in funding and with plans for international expansion, City-Drop is on its way to take over the European one-way, van rental service market. Vulog spoke with the company’s Co-Founder, Christophe Gerbeaud to get insights into how France’s favorite van rental service has become so successful.
Can you tell us about City-Drop?
City-Drop is a van rental service, founded in 2015. The service is geared towards individuals looking to move from point A to point B, without having to make the return journey to drop off the vehicle. It’s a one-way mobility solution.
City-Drop wasn’t always a digital-only service. It started out as a collaborative solution where the user would go from point A to point B and a second user would be waiting to collect the keys. There was a warm and friendly element to the service, but it was complicated on a logistical level since the two individuals had to agree to meet at a certain time and date.
What makes City-Drop unique? Where does it stand in comparison to other van rental companies?
There are several things that make City-Drop unique. First is the fact that our solution is one-way. Next, there’s the financial advantage: City-Drop is less expensive than going through an agency. Lastly is the freedom our solution offers – users are able to rent a vehicle from their smartphones at any time of the night or day. There is no need to go to a rental agency to sign a contract, pay the deposit, or do vehicle checks.
Can you tell us more about how you joined City-Drop and your role at the company today?
All three of us founders come from the car rental industry. Before City-Drop, we ran regular car rental agencies, and business worked well. But we really go way back – we were friends back in school long before we were colleagues.
Felix Nguyen, one of the co-founders, is in charge of finance and administration. He takes care of financing our vehicles since we own our entire fleet.
Frederic Dubois, the other co-founder, is in charge of sales. He works on developing partnerships, like the one with Norauto, (repair and maintenance centres), for example, or car body repairers and other key partners in the sector.
As for me, I mostly take care of the tech side of things, including IT and telematics. I work with Vulog on making sure we equip cars with the necessary technology, for example.
City-Drop provides a solution for those looking to do a one-way move from one city to another, in France and in Europe, for an affordable price. Where did the idea come from?
The idea originally came from the increasing demand that we were seeing from our experience running more “classic car rental” agencies. We had several physical agencies in Ile-de-France and we noticed that clients were looking to rent trucks to move to another region without having to bring the vehicle back.
After identifying a significant need to be addressed, we realized there was a major opportunity in serving a segment of customers who were not finding an adequate solution to their problems.
Did it take long to find your first users? Do you have a specific type of user?
It took a while to find our first users as we only had two vans to begin with and not much visibility around our service. However, once things got going, it really took off and we were quickly able to expand our fleet.
When we first launched City-Drop, our users mostly fell into the 18-25 age gap, but today, our user base – as well as the average profile – has grown significantly. More than ever, people of all age groups feel more at ease booking a car rental online these days than they did in the past. The use of smartphones is far more prevalent than it was before, too. Plus, City-Drop also has a lot more visibility now than when we first launched.
You provide a one-way service. Isn’t that costly and logistically complicated?
The worst-case scenario for us is having to send someone to bring a vehicle back. Today, we no longer consider ourselves a vehicle rental service, our job is to manage a flux of vehicles.
Thanks to our €1 kick-off offer, which encourages users to move vehicles, we very rarely have to use a transporter. In fact, this only happens in 5% of cases.
We also have a partnership with Cocolis, which allows us to make use of the empty space in the vehicles by filling it with merchandise that needs moving from one place to another. Overall, our users are very happy with the service – it’s not only practical but also offers an eco-conscious removal solution.
Why did you choose to partner with Vulog?
The AiMA platform had already won us over, but we also had a really good feeling about the team. We really appreciated the dynamism and openness of the teams and CEO and the mutual desire to work towards a simpler, more sustainable solution for our users. Our visions at Vulog and City-Drop complement one another, which makes it a pleasure for us to work together!
What does the future of City-Drop look like? More vehicles? More towns and cities? Partnerships? Green vehicles?
The future for City-Drop is deploying in more markets than ever before. We are currently launching in Spain, with Germany, Italy, and Portugal to follow. We also want to expand our fleet with green vehicles wherever possible! In fact, our goal is to reach 1000 vans by 2026. We have lots of exciting projects coming up so stay tuned!