PARIS -- As part of a push to expand its mobility services business unit, PSA Group has acquired TravelCar, a startup that operates short-term car rental programs and allows users to reserve parking spaces at thousands of facilities through a smartphone app.
PSA first took an equity stake in TravelCar, which was founded in 2012, in 2016. The following year TravelCar, which operates in more than 60 countries, entered the North American market.
The expansion was made following a 15-million-euro investment by PSA and the insurance group MAIF. The investment was part of PSA's 10-year strategy to return to selling cars in the United States by 2026, after leaving in the early 1990s.
PSA did not say how much it paid to acquire the remainder of TravelCar.
TravelCar's North American offerings include discounted parking at dozens of airports and train stations. It also offers free parking for owners who wish to rent their cars to travelers. Owners also earn a percentage of the rental fee. The company says it has one million users and has partnerships with 5,000 car parks.
TravelCar said the acquisition would allow it to benefit from synergies from PSA's other operations and expand its offerings.
Automotive companies are rapidly entering the "mobility services" field in anticipation of a shift from traditional vehicle ownership to more flexible transportation options. Mobility services are a separate business unit at PSA, under the umbrella name of Free2Move. The unit, which is led by CEO Brigitte Courtehoux, has a target of 300 million euros in revenue by 2021.
Free2Move operates short-term rental fleets in cities including Paris, Washington and Madrid. Through its app, it is also an aggregator for short-term mobility rental services, from electric scooters to bicycles to cars. It also offers fleet management services, and long-term business vehicle leasing and car sharing.