Ukraine’s Car-Sharing Ecosystem Becomes Battle Hardened

For Ukraine’s car-sharing providers, the war with Russia has been a time of the most extreme of challenges.

Apart from the fact that many cars have been destroyed or badly damaged in shelling and street fighting, the war-affected environment has demanded many corrections to the modus operandi. According to analyst firm Statista, the country’s shared car market had lost 78% in 2022 in terms of revenue. The number of service users has fallen from around 109,000 to 14,000. “Unfortunately, like many other markets, the car-sharing market in Ukraine has been severely affected by the ongoing war,” said Saskia Morwinsky, analyst at Statista. The obvious reasons are service users having fled to other countries while those who have chosen to stay in Ukraine have cut back on their mobility in dangerous locations.

She stipulated that these figures may be far from the real state of affairs: “Since Ukraine is a war zone and the situation is constantly changing, we are bound to miss the very latest events despite our frequent updates.” Many other analysts and market players, requested by the author, declined to comment citing either a lack of solid data or the sensitivity of the issue.

These days, even Ukrainian authorities have a poor understanding of the situation in the car-sharing sector. The head of the transport department of Odesa’s City Council emailed through Media Center Ukraine: “Unfortunately, we have no data on the raised issue and we have never tracked it. I am not sure if this type of activity is being recorded by anybody else in the city.” The national ministries of infrastructure and economy did not respond to the author’s enquiries.

Focus on the Western Ukraine

However, on a qualitative level, companies are evidently adapting, Morwinsky said. For starters, some companies are shifting to safer markets in the western parts of Ukraine and neighboring countries. One example is Getmancar, Ukraine’s largest car-sharing provider. While the company focused on the Kyiv market before the war, it now also offers its services in Lviv, the largest city in the west of Ukraine less affected by the war. It has also expanded into two Georgian cities Tbilisi and Batumi in December 2022. Company’s founder and CEO Taras Getmanskiy was cited by for saying: “Per each five local jobs, we create one job for a Ukrainian mid- or top-level manager. We will continue to operate in Ukraine, develop the services and enter new foreign markets.”

A number of other local companies, such as Mobilecar, Rent-Car and others, claim per-minute car rental services in Ukraine. Some of them had also expanded to the western regions in 2022.

Cars for work and home errands

Another visible trend is a reaction to the change in consumers’ reasons for renting a car. Before February 24, 2022, trips for outdoor activities and pleasure were a strong flow of revenue for providers, Getmanskiy said in another interview with Ukrainian TV channel Vikna: “Of course, such trips are less frequent these days. Many active people migrated abroad or moved to safer parts of the country. Compared to the pre-war level, I think that we have lost about 40% of our frequent users.”

Meanwhile, there’s a growing category of practical customers, he said: “For example, people rent cars to carry things when they move to a new home.” Yet another new group of clients are drivers who have lost their private cars in shelling. Since January 2023, Getmancar has been offering car subscription services to these and other clients. Meanwhile, Mobilecar, an Odesa-based provider, has been offering its fleet of several dozen BEVs to taxi drivers since the summer of 2022.

So far, these and an array of other adjustments allow Getmancar to maintain a positive profit margin despite the negative changes in the market, according to Getmansky. Notably, Ukrainian car-sharing operators receive no financial support from the state.

Recovery expected to start by 2023

Assuming no change, Statista anticipates the return of growth in this market as early as this year. “Ukraine is a particularly relevant shared mobility hub in Eastern Europe,” said Morwinsky. “The market has been growing before which suggests that the potential and interest in are present. In October 2022, the European Mobility Week took place in Ukraine, emphasizing the demand for sustainable mobility solutions.”

In the harshest conditions any MaaS provider has ever faced anywhere in the world, Ukrainian companies are proving the car-sharing concept is a sustainable idea, day after day. “Shared mobility solutions address some of the hardships of war: destroyed property, high fuel costs, and car maintenance,” she said. “Considering these difficulties, car-sharing may be a cost-effective way to support people’s mobility.”

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