Well, it looks like the carpooling race in Europe continues. BlaBlaCar, the European carpooling marketplace and competitor to Carpooling.com, has announced that it’s reached the milestone of 3 million members, almost double from this time last year. It’s also expanding to Germany, giving testimony to being a truly pan-European player.
In January last year, the Paris-headquartered company raised an additional $10 million from Accel Partners, and existing investors ISAI and Cabiedes Partners, specifically for European expansion. Since then its carpooling communities have extended beyond the UK, France and Spain, to include Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg), Poland, Portugal, Italy (via an acquisition), and now Germany, of course.
The launch into Germany, including opening an office in Hamburg, also puts the heat on ten year-old Carpooling.com, which is based in neighboring Munich and targets most of Europe, including 7 language-specific websites. In comparison, Carpooling.com claims 4 million members.
Founded in 2006, BlaBlaCar taps into the collaborative consumption phenomenon — long before anybody called it that — by offering a carpooling or ridesharing marketplace which connects drivers with empty seats to paying passengers, helping to offset long distance travel costs.
Drivers can charge passengers through BlaBlaCar or directly, while there are a number of security mechanisms, such as phone number authentication and user ratings of members, which form the basis for being blacklisted, if necessary. In other words, along with the network and marketplace aspects, it’s building a trust platform.
Accessible on the web and via mobile apps, BlaBlaCar says it’s currently seeing around 500,000 passengers every month.