From a french perspective, when we think about danish mobility, we first think about bikes. Yet, beyond city centers and copenhagen in particular, most danes use cars for both commuting and leisure. Actually, 82% of the total distance travelled by danes every year is by personal car, and that figure keeps growing.
That was the key reason why FDM, the Danish car club, decided to launch a carpooling project and chose Karos technology to power it. Today, we met Clément Guasco, Digital Business Developer at FDM to hear more about their goal with carpooling.
Joachim: Hello Clément, outside of Denmark, not everyone is familiar with FDM. Can you walk us through FDM’s mission and history?
Clément : FDM (Forenede Danske Motorejere), which stands for Federation of Danish Car-owners was founded in the early 20th century. At first, FDM was a grassroots movement, which started as a reaction to a new Danish law that forbade car owners to drive on secondary roads. Since then, FDM developed into an association that promotes the interest of all car owners. Today, we help our members buy, insure, sell or repair their cars, and provide them with a wide range of services.
J: Can you name some examples?
C: First, we share our knowledge with the car owners in the media. Our main magazine, Motor, is more than 100 years old. You can find articles about technical and safety tests we’ve done on automobiles, product reviews, information on new car models, and more.
We also offer technical and legal support through our hotline, which cover purchase, parking, insurance or repair questions. We also offer many services like insurance, road assistance, travel agency, driving courses and technical tests.
Finally, as we are also a political organization, we work on informing drivers about changes in the car ecosystem and we give opinions on ongoing regulations regarding road safety, parking, taxation, to name a few. Promoting the switch to electric cars is one of our main focuses at the moment.
J: Great, and why did you choose to expand to carpooling?
C: Our carpooling offering is called Ta’Med! (which can be translated as “come with!”). We launched it to target two key problems of car mobility: congestion and CO2 emissions. The majority of Danes go to work by car and daily commuting around cities is responsible for a large amount of CO2 emissions and pollution, as well as congestion. We consider this a societal issue that affects everyone, including our hundred of thousands of members. We know that carpooling has the potential to reduce the number of cars on the road and tackle this issue: that’s why we decided to give it a go!
J: What’s the difference between Ta’Med and traditional carpool platforms?
C: When people think of carpooling, they talk about a driver matching with a passenger and the passenger paying the driver for the service, like Blablacar or GoMore.
The carpooling we address, for daily commuting, benefits not only the passenger and drivers, but also companies, public authorities and society as a whole. Our strategy is to involve them in making carpooling a success. That is precisely why we partnered with Karos, whose product is not only an app for users, but a platform to promote carpooling for companies and local authorities. If you want to have a strong impact on pollution by promoting carpooling, you need employers, who promote the service to their employees, you need public transport authorities that finance and promote carpooling, and of course, you need a powerful tech platform to match users.
J: Why and how did you choose Karos ?
C: We’ve made an extensive benchmark, and studied potential partners from India, Australia, USA and Europe. Karos had the best fit in terms of vision and product, and experience with making people carpool through millions of trips.
Karos’ distinctive feature was its integration with public transportation, which was already rolled out in several regions in France. Its footprint in France with sizablet partners was also reassuring as we needed a strong provider with extended references. Carpooling for daily commute is no easy task, and we wanted to benefit from their experience.
Finally, the fact that Karos was a well-funded scale-up with 100% focus on carpooling gave us a guarantee that the project would be a priority for them, and that they would be a reliable partner on the long term.
Looking back at the process, it’s fair to say it was quite an obvious choice.
J: How did Karos adapt its platform to your needs?
C: First step was obviously to translate the app and the SaaS platform in danish. But beyond translation, there was a regulatory issue, as European law is not evenly interpreted across countries. For instance, protection of consumer’s online data is stricter in Denmark. Nevertheless, Karos managed to deliver the service on time and the app is now live in Denmark.
Karos Team has done a good job in establishing a platform that will facilitate future launches in other European countries.
J: What are your ambitions ?
C: We are launching the service with our first communities and companies during the fall 2021, and we will run several activations campaigns. After that, we will work on rolling out Ta’Med program out to all companies and public transport authorities in Denmark. Ambitions are high, though the legal framework and incentives for carpooling is not as strong in Denmark as in France. We are pursuing our efforts to convince the government to promote carpooling more extensively by allowing PTA to financially support carpooling and adapting tax regulations. France is a benchmark for many European countries when it comes to carpooling.
Denmark may have an image of a “bike land”, but you have to bear in mind that the number of kilometers driven by car has expanded over the last few years, and still makes up 82% of total kilometers driven!
Because of this, CO2-emissions and congestion are steadily increasing. Carpooling and car sharing are more necessary than ever! This is Ta’Med’s mission, and hopefully we’ll transform danish mobility for the better.