The first car-as-a-service platform in Bulgaria will be introduced to the market this September. Simpl, as the new service is called, will allow users to get a new car on a monthly subscription. There is one main difference to traditional financial and operational leasing: every car comes with an assistant who takes care of the whole maintenance, insurance, etc. for a monthly fee. Services that are not included in the standard package can be purchased and managed via a mobile application. A driver can subscribe to the service for a minimum of three years.
Simpl is a product of the collaboration between Eurolease Group, the CEE leasing company part of Eurohold, and the two-year-old Bulgarian startup Avtoikonom (Autobutler).
Automotive sector gets more customer-centric
“The automotive industry is shifting towards the ‘as a service’ model. So far, the automotive industry and especially the car dealers have been focused more on the vehicles rather than on the customers. This is one of the main changes with the new model – it turns around the table and offers convenience to the users,” explains Emil Stavrev, co-founder of Avtoikonom. The startup has developed a digital platform that aims to improve and simplify the way people and businesses maintain and service their vehicles. The main product of the company is a mobile app that connects car owners, or in this case subscribers, to a professional agent who picks up the car, service it and return it to the driver.
“Simpl is a result of our 15 years of observations on how people use and maintain their cars. It’s a premium service for people with a dynamic lifestyle who don’t want to spend 2-3 hours on their own to service the vehicles,” explains Tanya Kostadinova, marketing manager at Eurolease. The standard package of Simpl includes nine services like annual technical inspection, wardrobe for tires, etc. Additionally, via the application, a user will be able to ask the assistant to pick up the car from the airport, park it, and bring it back when the customer arrives. In addition, Simpl will have on stock accessories for vehicles that could also be rented out – car seats for kids, ski racks, etc.
The price includes all the service and maintenance costs, including insurance, so that a user doesn’t have to do any additional paperwork. In the beginning, the service will operate with the cars offered by Eurolease. “Customers can also choose a vehicle from any other dealer and send it to us. From there, we take over – buy the car, and offer it through the platform,” explains CEO of Eurolease Asen Asenov. In the test phase, the service will be available only in Sofia, but in the long-term Eurolease can apply the model also in other CEE markets.
“As this is a quite new concept, we await the reaction of the market,” says Asenov. According to Stavrev, and his co-founder Todor Gigilev, the car-as-a-service model is where the whole industry will shift in the next several years. They estimate the market for this type of car service at $700b. A recent report by Technavio shows that the market size will grow by $143b during 2019-2023. Research suggests that Europe is expected to be a large market for the vehicle as a service model since the majority of the vehicle as service vendors such as Orange Business Services, Nokia Corporation, and Volvo Cars are based in Europe. And this is exactly what Avtoikonom is waiting for since the startup already has developed and tested the platform that maintains the whole process behind such services.