The Business of Mobility: Car Rental’s Electric Mobility Future

By Aidan McClean, CEO of UFODRIVE

The Business of Mobility is a new Urban Mobility Company series highlighting some of the most successful new businesses in the mobility sector. Featuring a closer look at the way in which companies stand out, CEOs, Directors and other c-level executives elaborate on what it takes to turn a great idea into a great company.


The story behind UFODRIVE

Having travelled extensively for business and pleasure, I have suffered one too many bad car rental experiences. Life is short and time is our most precious asset, which is why I hate to waste or lose it. Yet this kept happening over and over, every time I rented a car. More often than not, there is a queue when you arrive at a rental desk (still a very manual, paper-based and slow process), and then you are pushed the excess waiver insurance, a paper-based damage check before you enter the car, only to then find out it is not even the car you wanted! On top of this frustrating process, I always felt like I have been somehow ripped off, as the original ‘sticker price’ was never what I paid in the end. As refueling is usually required within 10km of the airport or city center drop off, petrol stations capitalize on this and end up being more expensive. All in all, it’s a terribly dated, slow, and poor customer experience. And I had enough. I have also become more and more conscious of my environmental choices. I wanted to rent clean and rent electric, but I couldn’t find this option anywhere and certainly not at a fair price.

That’s the genesis of UFODRIVE. I had a ‘freak out’ moment in Vienna Airport after yet another horrible rental experience with over an hour’s delay from arriving at the rental desk to driving away. Enough was enough, and I wrote the concept for UFODRIVE on the return flight.

Why ‘UFO’? Because we wanted to create something that was ‘out of this world’, something radically better.

Starting UFODRIVE

I am not an entrepreneur. I lived the corporate life and climbed the ladder to the c-suite for over 25 years. Quitting that comfortable life to create a start-up was a big culture shock, but we dove right in. We convinced our first location, Luxembourg Airport, to rent us the best possible spaces in the airport carpark and to install our own electric chargers. In parallel, and with the help of some seed capital, we built a high class and simple to use app to manage every aspect of the rental process. Our challenge was to reduce the on-average 50 minute process of renting a car to just 2 minutes. We have since implemented a unique charging and range assistant for our customers to ensure they never have to worry about range anxiety. 

Since our humble beginnings we have now grown to 8 countries and 16 locations in just 18 months. We have been able to navigate airport acceptance processes very smoothly thanks to our clean credentials. If I could go back and change one thing, I would say we could have started earlier and spent less time on the spreadsheet models worrying about stuff that never happened! Driven by the increasing demand for clean mobility in airports and cities, we plan to continue our rapid expansion in Europe and beyond for 2020.

What’s so different compared to other rental companies?

Everything. To encourage the transition to electric mobility, we have built a unique technology solution. In over 5,000,000 kms driven, our customers have never had a range or charging issue. That’s because we have built direct connectivity to over 10,000 chargers across Europe. Our app monitors your journey, battery, and destination in real time to recommend the best, fastest, and most cost effective charging along your route.

We are the only rental company that has the technology to bring the charger, the driver and the car together to deliver a seamless journey. I believe our service is totally hassle-free: we are in prime locations and the process takes less than two minutes to register, reserve and retrieve your car.

In addition to the simple, easy and fast experience, we are also fully transparent on pricing – no hidden extras. Our prices are cheaper than the competition when comparing an equivalent class of car, and we include full comprehensive insurance and ‘free fuel’, as UFODRIVE pays for any charging network you use across Europe. 

UFODRIVE is not car sharing. Car sharing is fine for a few hours, but not for a few days where it becomes very expensive. Electric car sharing can be difficult to operationalise, as we have our own charging bases. In addition, with UFODIRVE, your car is clean and prepared for you, where car sharing can not always guarantee that this will be the case.

We have been infected with the excellent feedback from our customers and following a recent successful funding round, we plan to spread across Europe and beyond – very quickly. With our unique EV fleet technology we are thinking big…we aim to be the go-to electric brand. 


Have you been wondering about the many ways that future mobility can be electric? Look no further:

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MaaS, EVs and AVs: How Helsinki Became a Transport Trendsetter