The startup plans to increase monthly bookings, as well as expand to more GCC countries.
The Middle East’s first and biggest carshare operator, Ekar, announces their successful operational expansion to Riyadh, following the startup’s latest funding round in June, totaling $17.5 million. The round was led by Dubai-based venture capital firm, Polymath Ventures, with participation from AlYemni Group and Audacia Capital. Ekar is launching in Riyadh with 600 Ekars, and aims to launch in other cities throughout Saudi, including Dammam, Jeddah, Mecca, Medina, and more.
“We are excited to announce the launch of Ekar Riyadh, and are eager to improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of Saudi residents and tourists alike with Ekar’s seamless carshare service,” says Vilhelm Hedberg, CEO of Ekar Middle East. “Today, Ekar UAE services 50,000 bookings per month, a number which we expect to quadruple over the next twelve months as we launch services across cities in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries. We have 1,000 Ekars in our fleet and over 75,000 members and envision surpassing 10,000 Ekars and over a million members by 2021,” adds Hedberg.
Established in 2015, Ekar enables users to book on-demand car-share operations catered to a young and tech-savvy audience that are in favor of alternative and efficient transportation methods over the traditional car ownership model. The startup’s innovative service bridges the gap in the growing demand for cost-effective transportation by leveraging its world-class car-sharing business model. Recently, over 70,000 women in the Kingdom have been issued driving licenses in an emerging change of law, and Ekar is well-positioned to be the first transport-tech solution for its respective audience.
“We are delighted to have a select group of strategic investors who are aligned with Ekar’s passion to provide cost-effective mobility across emerging markets. Ekar’s in-house tech team now has the fuel to scale Ekar across MENA,” says Hedberg.
New members in Saudi Arabia can enjoy two hours of free drive-time upon registering on the Ekar mobile application, with the application processes asking for select documents such as National ID and Driving Licence, as well as a valid email address and mobile number. Ekar’s pricing model is simple from 40 Halalas to 75 Halalas per minutes depending on the car’s model, which ranges from economy to business class vehicles. The average ride is around 50 minutes and can cost as little as 24 Riyals, a price that includes fuel and insurance and lacks a monthly membership fee. The accepted forms of payment include credit and debit card, as well as Apple Pay.
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