North East based car club pioneer joins forces with European mobility provider

Newcastle based Co-wheels Car Club – the UK’s leading independent car share operator – has become part of the Oply car sharing network which is rapidly expanding across Europe it announced today (Wednesday, April 10, 2019).

Co-wheels is now part of Oply UK Limited, a new joint venture with investment from ExaMotive SA, a leading European mobility provider, and SAIC Motor, owners of the iconic British motoring brand MG.

Co-wheels currently operates car sharing in more than 40 towns and cities across the UK to enable people to benefit from socially inclusive, affordable and low emission mobility as a practical alternative to private car ownership. It also delivers fleet management to major corporate and public sector organisations to improve fleet utilisation and efficiency, reducing costs associated with ‘grey fleet’ mileage.

The new investment comes from:

  • Luxembourg based ExaMotive, a leading European provider of innovative, on-demand mobility solutions for the modern world. It also operates the Oply carshare network currently serving multiple German cities and soon to be rolled out across Europe.
  • SAIC Europe and MG UK, subsidiaries of SAIC Motor Corporation Limited, which is the largest car maker in China and owns the iconic brand MG & MAXUS. It is a leading player in promoting innovative transformation through vehicle electrification, intelligence & connectivity and shared mobility.

It will allow rapid expansion of the fleet in both new and existing locations as well as resources to improve services and offer a wider range of mobility solutions in future.

Under the deal Directors Richard Falconer and Paul Balmont will continue to lead the Co-wheels operation and spearhead accelerated growth and service improvements. Richard said: “Mobility is developing at a rapid pace and we are determined to ensure Co-wheels is at the forefront, whilst ensuring our members continue to be offered the best user experience.

“For some time we have been searching for partners who could help us achieve this vision at a pace faster than would be possible on our own and we are delighted to become a part of the Oply network and be working with partners who share our ideals and vision.“

ExaMotive CEO Mauro Mariani, said: “The UK is an important and growing market for car sharing and we are excited to be investing in Co-wheels as there is real potential to do so much more together.

“The founders and their team have done a great job in getting the company to where it is today and this deal can be a real springboard for a period of accelerated growth and enhancements in the ‘on demand’ mobility offering.

“We will support the team in this next exciting phase and make available to them a deep pool of mobility expertise and developments that we believe will further improve the user experience for Co-wheels members.

“Car sharing is an integral part of modern mobility for both businesses and individuals which is gathering tremendous momentum around the world. The future is very exciting, we are delighted to have Co-wheels become a part of our network of mobility solution providers.“

SAIC Europe Vice President Jerry Hong said: “Investment in both ExaMotive and Co-wheels is an important milestone to build-up our partnership with a shared mobiity player. The user focused solutions of Oply and Co-wheels will help us as an OEM better understand customer needs and preferences towards mobility services and technology.

“Both ExaMotive and Co-wheels have achieved outstanding performance and growth in their history. By combining the resources, experience and technology of ExaMotive and Co-wheels, we believe it will further enhance their market position and competitiveness to become a major player in the car sharing market.

“We expect our new MG full electric products will be part of ExaMotive and Co-wheels’ fleets and will be well accepted by customers in the near future.”

Adrian Dye, Partner in the Company and Commercial department at law firm Sintons, is the longstanding adviser to CoWheels and advised the business on the deal.

He said: “Richard and Paul have created a dynamic and thriving business which is at the forefront of car sharing and mobility solutions, which has successfully expanded from its native North East around the country. Now, through becoming part of Oply, CoWheels is set for international success.

“This joint venture and investment will allow CoWheels to pursue its next stage of development and we are delighted to have been able to support them in securing this.”

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