A foreign automaker is targeting Seattle to break into the American market, but not on four wheels. Instead, this automobile company is coming to your smartphone.
Before you get to the car keys, you have your smartphone with a Spin bikeshare app next to the Limebike and ofo apps. If a bike doesn’t suit you, well, then you can press for Car2Go or Zipcar. Free2Move aims to declutter your screen and provide all of them under one app.
What’s intriguing about the Free2Move app is that it is owned by Groupe PSA. American drivers may not be familiar with the company, but European drivers are — PSA is an automaker with brands like Peugeot, Citroen, and Opel under its umbrella. But it’s not bringing cars to the country. It foresees another transportation market.
According to the company’s website:
Free2Move allows users in Seattle to compare the location, characteristics and operating costs of available transportation options, including offerings from Car2Go, Zipcar then TravelCar. Free2Move will also be adding several bike sharing services over the next 60-days, including Ofo Bike, Lime Bike, and Spin Bike. The service is positioned to help solve challenges from contemporary trends such as urbanization and digitalization.
One drawback is that Uber and Lyft are not currently available through Free2Move — two considerable rideshare services in town. Transit routes also aren’t available, which would be quite helpful to round out the options.
Free2Move in Seattle
Free2Move launches as Seattle debates the future of getting around an already congested grid. Because of its geography, new roads aren’t an option. In fact, Seattle mayoral candidates have talked about covering I-5 with a lid. What is left to build upon are transit and sharing-based transportation, such as bikeshares, carshares, and rideshares.
About 400,000 people already use the Free2Move app in Europe. To break into the American market, the company chose Seattle first (it is slated to launch in Portland second). Free2Move’s websites states that Seattle was selected to gain its North American foothold because of its “progressive efforts in efficient urban transportation.”
And if a transportation app isn’t your speed, PSA plans to eventually bring its car brands to the United States.