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Flow Carsharing

Reliable car sharing in rural areas

Flow Carsharing from Büdelsdorf in Northern Germany offers station-based car sharing with electric vehicles in over 20 cities. In the coming years, the service is set to grow to 30 to 50 cities. To promote shared mobility, Flow Carsharing is partnering with the SMILE24 mobility project.

We spoke with Florian Kolberg, founder and CEO of Flow Carsharing, about the importance of reliable telematics for car sharing in rural areas.

Flow Carsharing offers all-electric car sharing in Northern Germany
Flow Carsharing offers all-electric car sharing in Northern Germany

Car sharing in non-urban regions

Florian Kolberg had the idea for his own car sharing company seven years ago. As an employee of a car rental company, he closely followed the debate on climate-friendly mobility. It got him wondering whether and how e-mobility could also be reliably implemented in rural communities and smaller towns. In spring 2021, he founded Flow Carsharing. His goal: Establishing a car sharing provider with electric vehicles outside of metropolitan areas.

“I’m sure that car sharing can transcend urban boundaries” – Florian Kolberg, Founder & CEO of Flow Carsharing

The Flow Carsharing business model

Mobility in non-urban regions often fails due to a lack of balance between supply and demand. The Flow Carsharing portfolio is therefore deliberately diverse. With different rental models, customers can adapt car sharing to their individual needs, thereby increasing demand. For a car sharing provider in rural areas, this is a crucial aspect of rapidly building a broad customer base.

Flow Carsharing offers its customers three different usage models:

  • Station-based car sharing at hourly or daily rates
  • Car subscription at a fixed monthly price
  • Corporate car sharing for companies without their own fleet

Flow Carsharing also relies on an end-to-end solution. As one of the few charge point operators (CPO) in Northern Germany, the company builds and maintains its own network of charging stations. These are also available to the public for charging. In this way, Flow Carsharing is not only expanding its car sharing service, but also promoting e-mobility in the Schleswig-Holstein region.

The car sharing provider offers its service in 23 locations in Northern Germany, including a few larger cities such as Kiel, Flensburg, and Neumünster. Florian Kolberg’s team now consists of three people. They handle the rental processes and take care of customers. 85 per cent of the trips are booked by private individuals, the remaining 15 per cent are company trips.

Flow Carsharing provides its own charging stations as a charge point operator (CPO)
Flow Carsharing provides its own charging stations as a charge point operator (CPO)

Mobility transition with EVs and a strong technology partner

Flow Carsharing opted for an all-electric vehicle fleet in 2021. Today, customers have the option of choosing between several vehicle models: VW ID.3, Cupra Born, and VW ID.4.

Flow Carsharing originally utilized a different telematics system instead of the INVERS CloudBoxx. However, when the previous provider discontinued its operations, Florian Kolberg and his team proactively sought out a new solution. They prioritized essential features such as reliable connectivity, easily accessible customer service, and flexibility when it comes to scaling. Their extensive search led them to confidently choose INVERS.

“Thanks to INVERS’s vehicle-agnostic approach, we can integrate numerous vehicle models into our fleet at any time. This allows us to flexibly build and further scale our service,” he explains. “Thereby, we diversify the sharing offer for our customers and provide them with new incentives to dispense with their private car.”

Smooth transition to the INVERS CloudBoxx

Flow Carsharing also looks back positively on the telematics implementation process. It is important for operators that their vehicles are available and can generate revenue. Therefore, it was a major concern for Flow Carsharing to be able to equip their entire fleet with the CloudBoxx as quickly as possible.

“The intensive support from INVERS during the implementation phase reduced our downtime to a minimum, enabling us to get the entire electric fleet back on the road within 48 hours.”

Even after installation, Flow Carsharing counts on the reliable support team at INVERS. “In the event of any issues, it is imperative for us to respond promptly,” emphasizes Florian Kolberg. “It takes just a few minutes for the INVERS support team to get back to us and work on a solution.”

Reliable tech stack for car sharing in rural areas

Particularly in non-urban regions, reliable cellular reception is not always a given. With other telematics solutions, customers may encounter difficulties in starting their rental smoothly or opening vehicles.

“Our car sharing service can only be successful if the vehicles are accessible at all times. With the INVERS CloudBoxx, we can guarantee this even with a weak mobile phone connection.”

To ensure an always-on connection, the CloudBoxx supports multiband mobile communications from 2G through 4G and LTE-M. The telematics unit also contains an eSIM that allows it to continuously evaluate reception and always dial into the best network. If mobile phone reception fails completely, the CloudBoxx automatically switches to Bluetooth. This allows customers to start and end rentals in seconds anytime and anywhere.

Cooperating with SMILE24 for sustainable mobility

For future expansion, Florian Kolberg benefits from working with SMILE24. This transport project of the federal state of Schleswig-Holstein aims to improve mobility in rural areas and smaller towns by providing more sharing and public transport offerings.

The partnership between Flow Carsharing and SMILE24 has created valuable synergies. Thanks to his expertise, Florian Kolberg was able to support SMILE24 by suggesting a comprehensive concept for their project in Rensburg. In return, the transport project offers essential infrastructure, providing Flow Carsharing with access to additional charging stations and locations.

Development prospects for Flow Carsharing

Through the collaboration with SMILE24, Flow Carsharing’s eight charging points are to be expanded to 25. With the vehicle-agnostic CloudBoxx from INVERS, Florian Kolberg wants to further scale the fleet and increase it to 100 sharing vehicles by mid-2025. These will then be available at 30 to 50 locations in Northern Germany.

The company would also like to expand its own range of services in the future. From July, Flow Carsharing will be introducing pay-per-ride. With the implementation, they will also begin offering an hourly tariff for frequent drivers, with all kilometers included.

Flow Carsharing is a shared mobility champion that makes car sharing reliable in rural areas and contributes to the mobility transition in Northern Germany. We are delighted to be a technology partner for this project and to be able to unconditionally support Flow Carsharing in its growth plans.

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