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potential analysis of Ecov's short-distance real-time carpooling stations relying on roadside connected hardware

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - LOCARP4EU (potential analysis of Ecov's short-distance real-time carpooling stations relying onroadside connected hardware)

Reporting period: 2017-03-01 to 2017-08-31

"35% of European citizens live in peri-urban areas. This population faces major mobility challenges, and the car is by far the most frequently mean of transport in the outskirts of the city – for those who can afford it. Municipalities and local authorities are well aware of the mobility plights in these special areas, however the low density of population drives up exponentially the costs of a classic transport network, not adapted to the special patterns of peri-urban mobility. The aim of Ecov is to become the first mean of transport in rural and peri-urban areas and the missing link between mass transport and low density areas. The SME is offerng local authorities a cost-effective mean of transportation and a mobility system adapted to the needs of their citizens.

Increasing occupancy rate in private cars may lead to major improvement in terms of GHG emissions, energy saving and oil import reduction. This optimisation of current existing mobility system may be as much powerful as technology improvements like electrification of cars stock for example. In terms of social and economic impact, allowing mobility for all is vital to increase access to opportunities (for job-searching, education, leisure, health etc.). Carpooling may potentialy have major role to play to fight gender or social inequalities, and to increase inclusiveness. Indeed, carpooling is only a better use of existing system: it is a no-regret policy.

However, up to now, carpooling has only been successfull for long-distance trips. For day to day life, which represents the major part of mobility, carpooling solutions are non-flexible and unadapted to concrete constraints. This is why Ecov is innovating with its carpooling concept especially designed for daily, short trips in peri-urban areas: the ""connected carpooling stations"". A carpooling station is accessible to passengers where they can enter their destination into the terminal (no smartphone required), which then transmits a signal to nearby smartphone apps, nearby connected vehicles and last but not least to nearby LED sign, conveniently placed on the roadside. Thus, reading the LED panels on the roadside, drivers are informed of the real-time demand ahead of the station and can chose to stop. For the passenger, the experience is similar to public transport.

Thanks to these carpooling stations, new lines of mass transit (carpool-lines) can be created in few weeks, where bus-lines would not have been even thinkable. By ""upgrading"" the road, we transform private cars into public transport.

Our company sets up the global solution, from hardware to software, including project management, communication and marketing etc. We have great potential of uptake in France and three pilot projects (from 2 to 20-station wide) are currently being deployed in the peri-urban area. We are now looking for potential abroad opportunities;
Our project financed by the SME instrument enables us to investigate the market characteristics of other EU countries in order to define our European deployment strategy. The main objective of LOCARP4EU are is identify the most promising EU markets for Ecov’s concept and validate ECOV’s concept at EU level. In the feasibility study the objective is 1) to analyse the market potential and assess competition and alternative solutions in Europe, 2) To adjust the economic model and further adapt the business plan at EU level. 3) To define the deployment strategy taking into account local characteristics, and local public policies. 4) To identify the most relevant local partners to foster new partnerships in the selected countries.

The main objective of the project is a feasibility assessment to disclose the most promising EU markets for Ecov’s concept. The selection has been made based on different criteria: carpooling market maturity, legal specificities, and good reception of Ecov’s concept. The selection is based on the results of detailed market studies and interviews with municipalities and region. In a second phase, Ecov has upgraded its business model and business plan, with the market insights obtained. LOCARP4EU provides a detailed overview of the feasibility of Ecov’s concept deployment in various EU countries.
Tasks performed are:
Task 1: Market research and countries selection
Task 2: Business model & business plan
Task 3: Stakeholder engagement – partnership development
Task 4: Legal and IP Studies

The main conclusion of the feasability report is that, despite very different local situations, the three countries analysed are three promising markets for Ecov’s solution.

Expected dissemination of the work is development of local pilots and then commercialisation of an adapted product.
"The concept of carpooling is not new, as several carpooling solutions already exist, but they are either fully digital (websites and apps) or fully physical (carpooling carparks). These concepts are optimal for long distance trips, but are not suitable for daily trips.

Ecov’s “connected carpooling station” takes the better of both digital and physical solutions to make local carpooling a reality. This “phygital” (physical + digital) concept allows drivers to participate on the go, without constraints, just stopping and opening their door to passengers. For passenger, carpool becomes similar to a mass transit, with high level of frequency. The physical aspect helps drivers and passengers to meet at key-points of road-network. The digital part provides information such as expected waiting time, and security.

Connected carpooling stations let peri-urban and rural areas get new mobility system, at competitive cost in comparison with conventional solutions (bus or responsive demand transport). This new “public service” uses the sharing-economy revolution to optimise the global mobility system, and thus improves efficiency of public spending. Our business model is qualified as Business to Government to Customer (B2G2C), as Ecov will be a public service provider and take charge of setting up the carpooling stations as well as operating them, by order from local authorities.

On a theoretical point of view, our innovation is a break-down in the way of thinking carpoling: from now, we do not match people in a ""deterministic way"", but in a ""statistical way"". Indeed, we harness to whole flow of vehicles, not only one of them. As a consequence, we do data analysis to undestand the flow of vehicles and to provide the user with the best service and information he can get.

No direct competitor is known for the solution developped by Ecov. The study has shown interest to many local authorities and some private stakeholders.

A connected carpooling station in peri-urban arean
A connected carpooling station in rural area