The young Montreal startup Louelec presents itself as an equivalent of Netflix for electric cars. Its cars can be rented by the week, according to a formula that allows newcomers to quickly generate income and settle into their new life more sustainably.
We rarely emigrate because our finances are doing wonderfully. From the first days, you have to find a job to pay for accommodation, food, etc. Even newcomers with diplomas are not necessarily able to do this.
In Montreal, the young company Louelec notes that its business model solves part of this problem. Founded in Montreal at the end of 2020, Louelec presents itself as the Netflix of electric cars. It attempts to facilitate access for taxi or delivery service drivers to the still very emerging market for electric cars.
It currently has 400 to 500 rental cars, mainly in Montreal. “A lot of our drivers are newcomers who don’t have a lot of money or credit history,” said in an interview with The duty the general director of Louelec, Léo Bouisson. “They couldn’t afford a new car, even the cheapest cars cost at least $30,000, plus taxes and everything. »
The solution: Louelec rents an electric vehicle, maintenance and repairs included, then people are invited to become drivers for on-demand taxi or delivery services like Uber. The latter is also a close partner of Louelec.
“With Uber, the drivers are independent workers,” continues Léo Bouisson. It’s easier to get started than finding a job. This allows many of our drivers to get by, study and obtain a diploma, then hope to find a more stable job. »
Form an ocean to another
Louelec’s medium-term objective is to reproduce its model elsewhere in Canada. The young company has already carried out a pilot project in Toronto. She also plans to test the water temperature in Ottawa, then in Vancouver.
The company has the support of Uber in this project, which helps. Uber has already announced its ambition to electrify all vehicles used by its drivers in North America by 2030. The American on-demand taxi service relies in part on the young Montreal growth to achieve this.
“We are riding the Uber electrification wave; around 60% of our customers are Uber drivers,” says Léo Bouisson. “By going to Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver, we can reach 2,000 or 3,000 cars on the road in about two years. It’s more difficult to expand outside of Quebec, where there is no government assistance for the purchase of electric vehicles, but our model is already profitable. »
This profitability is an important distinction for Louelec, which essentially benefited from financial assistance from its two founders, David Blondot and Mathieu Courtat, then from relatives and friends who invested, in all, half a million in the ‘business. Its managers say they favor tight management of their finances, rather than seeking capital from private investors, like a more common start-up company.
Léo Bouisson thinks that having opened the doors very early to venture capital investment firms, for example, could have ended up costing the young company dearly. He cites examples in France and England of tech companies which have raised tens of millions of euros, then which these days threaten to go bankrupt, after having put too many vehicles on the road, having hired too many people or have spent too much on technology.
“Even Uber is just starting to make money,” he said. We made sure that our model was profitable with three, sixty or a thousand cars. »
A boost to densification
Louelec also sees beyond the on-demand electric taxi market. The company believes it could take advantage of a still new market by adding a shared vehicle service for real estate developers and building managers to its offering.
Léo Bouisson talks about “private car sharing”, something that resembles the Communauto service, well established in Montreal, but which would be offered to people residing in multi-unit buildings, in the same way that the owners of these buildings already offer complementary services housing, such as access to the swimming pool, leisure services, etc.
“Their base rent includes housing and condo fees, then those who want to pay extra for access to the pool, and they would also have the option of paying a little more to add hours of use of the pool. a car, explains the general director of Louelec. In denser neighborhoods, buildings without space for personal cars will be able to offer car sharing which will always be available. »
A way, according to Louelec, to fill the lack of transport provision where there is less and less space for the personal car and where public transport is not available. There may be demand for this in major Canadian cities, too.