Automakers looking to add "mobility service provider" to their resumes are missing one key ingredient: a dedicated user base.
On Wednesday, Uber said it would partner with bike rental startup Jump in San Francisco, allowing users to book the dockless bikes on its app in a pilot program. The deal gives Jump, a relatively small player in the bike rental game, immediate access to thousands of customers who frequently use Uber and gives Uber's customers yet another reason to open its app.
Uber's foray into bike rentals in San Francisco is an immediate threat to Ford Motor Co., which has established its own bike network in the city, encouraging commuters to sign onto its own dedicated app. French automaker PSA Group is testing its own mobility service in U.S. cities, allowing customers to book multiple services on its Free2Move app.
While these platforms help diversify automakers' business as self-driving cars threaten to upend individual car ownership, there are significant, and related, challenges to turning them into revenue streams. Specifically, they need to become a primary resource for a large population of travelers, and they need to attract an array of mobility services — from bike rentals to ride-hailing to public transit — to meet a variety of needs.
Uber already has proved its ability to grow a loyal audience, which, in turn, makes it attractive to budding services such as Jump to sign on. If the pilot is successful, and the ride-hailing giant continues to pursue a multimodal transportation platform, automakers' new mobility ventures could be dead on arrival.
— Katie Burke