"Mobility doesn't need to be restricted to an antiquated idea of ownership. The way people get around will very quickly look more like Netflix or Spotify rather than your uncle's old DVD collection."

The Primer: the car-sharing service putting electric vehicles on Wellington’s roads

Every week we ask a local business or product to introduce themselves in eight simple takes. This week we talk to Mevo CEO Erik Zydervelt whose company provides Wellingtonians with app-based, on-demand access to electric vehicles.

ONE: How did Mevo start and what was the inspiration behind it?

My co-founder Finn Lawrence and I both grew up in Nelson and are old mates. One day, we were catching up and chatting about our travels when we landed on the topic of high-quality car sharing. We’d both seen it work really well overseas and had a hallelujah moment about mid-way through a pint when we realised there was a massive gap in the market at home. That’s really how the idea for Mevo was born, and as a progressive, tech-friendly city, we thought Wellington was the perfect place to bring Mevo and a fleet of electric vehicles to life.

TWO: Did you have any interest/experience in business or entrepreneurship prior to starting Mevo?

Yes, both Finn and I had experience with entrepreneurship, startups, and business prior to Mevo. We both see business as an amazing mechanism to create positive change in the world.

Finn has been involved with a number of startups and early-stage companies, as well as managed incubation and accelerator programmes coaching other startups. His work has ranged from actually building the products (he’s a developer by background) through to higher level product, strategy, and marketing work.

In a previous life, I ran strategy for breakout travel company, Bamboo, in Asia. We gave travellers an opportunity to see South East Asia in a whole new way. We integrated volunteering time into tours and saw bookings jump tenfold in a very short period. Before that, I was doing research at Victoria University about how we could make nature a bigger part of people’s day-to-day lives in cities. which really made me consider cities as systems.

Mevo’s founding duo: Erik Zydervelt (left) & Finn Lawrence (right) (supplied)

THREE: Tell us about how someone would go about using Mevo to rent out a car.

Sign up at mevo.co.nz where you’ll need a full drivers licence and credit card. Currently, it takes 24 hours – at the most – to be verified. You can then download the IOS or Android app and sign and reserve the closest car up to 30 minutes before you need it. Once you’ve walked over to the car, just hit the unlock button in the app and the Mevo car is yours until you bring it back. You pay by the minute, hour, or day. Once you’re done, lock the car and walk away.

FOUR: What sort of cars does Mevo offer and how many are currently on the road?

Right now, we have fifteen plug-in hybrid Audi A3 e-trons around Wellington CBD and at Wellington International Airport.

It’s also important to note how many cars aren’t on the road with Mevo around. Experts say that for every single car-sharing vehicle meandering through the streets, it takes seven to 11 vehicles off the road. With this in mind, Mevo has conceivably taken as many as 165 cars off the streets.

We’re currently most popular among young professionals who want a getaway car for the weekend, followed closely by aspirational Tinder daters. The latter is our fastest growing market.

There are currently fifteen plug-in hybrid Audi A3 e-trons on Wellington’s roads (Supplied)

FIVE: How much does it cost to use Mevo? Are things like insurance, fuel etc. covered as well?

We currently have three plans. The hourly rate ranges from $11 – $23 per hour. Our prices are all inclusive of electricity, fuel, insurance and mileage — up to 200 kms per day, which is more than enough to get you to the Wairarapa and back.

We have members who’ve told us that they’re saving over $80 a week using Mevo over owning their own car [because] if we take for example a 2009 Mazda 3 being used 2-3 times a week, it works out costing about $136 a week to run it when you take things like depreciation, parking, WOF and insurance into account. The same amount of use works out to be $50 cheaper a week with Mevo and you’re in one of our brand new electric Audis. Also, you’ll never have to clean your car again.

SIX: What do you think needs to get done in order to make electric vehicles & electric-hybrid vehicles a more mainstream option for New Zealanders?

Electric vehicles cost an arm and a leg and just aren’t feasible for the average Kiwi. Free-floating allows Kiwis to pick-up and drop-off their share-cars at any designated parking spot around the city and will help more of mainstream New Zealand to become EV adopters without asking them to take out a second mortgage. The introduction of free-floating in cities like Madrid, Copenhagen and Seattle has really spurred an increase in users and available vehicles.

Improving infrastructure (ie: more charging stations) and creating smart urban policy will also help get more Kiwis in the driver’s seat of EVs.

“Experts say that for every single car-sharing vehicle meandering through the streets, it takes seven to 11 vehicles off the road. With this in mind, Mevo has conceivably taken as many as 165 cars off the streets.” (Supplied)

SEVEN: Do you any other plans to scale/grow further and if so, what are they?

Wellington is just the start. We’re working on rolling out in five major cities in New Zealand and Australia over the next five years with a network of 2000+ vehicles. You should be able to jump into a Mevo in Wellington CBD, shootout to the airport, and jump into another one when you touch down in Auckland, Sydney or a number of other locations.

On average, cars are used just 5% of the time and people are left holding the bill for the other 95% of the time it sits around. Mobility doesn’t need to be restricted to an antiquated idea of ownership. The way people get around will very quickly look more like Netflix or Spotify rather than your uncle’s old DVD collection.

EIGHT: Lastly, tell us about a start-up or business that you really admire right now.

German company Lilium is building flying cars (okay, technically cars with electric vertical takeoff jets) that carry four people up to 300 km/h. It’s pretty damn awesome. They seem like a solid bet for finally giving us the flying car future the boomers promised and never delivered (and yep, we’d love to put them on the Mevo network).

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