Ride-sharing platform Carpooling has been helping connect drivers and passenger together for more than a decade in Europe. Now the company is ready to bring its service to the U.S., providing a platform for sharing long-distance rides together.
The company isn’t about getting users from one neighborhood in a city to another — it’s more about getting passengers from one city to another. The average ride on the platform is about 125 miles, although the platform is also frequently used by commuters, according to Carpooling CEO Markus According to Carpooling CEO Markus Barnikel.
The platform works just as you would probably expect: Drivers enter starting address and their final destination, and Carpooling matches them up with passengers who are heading in the same general direction. The goal is mainly to offset the cost of travel for everyone involved, so Carpooling determines how much passengers should contribute based on the number of miles driven and reimburses drivers accordingly.
Drivers and passengers might not be originating in the same city — in fact, Barnikel told me in a phone interview that many rides will have drivers picking up passengers at pre-determined meeting spots along the way. That’s part of the special sauce that Carpooling has worked on over the last several years.
To keep everyone on the same page, Carpooling has created mobile apps that enable users to not only book a ride (on the part of a passenger) or accept a passenger (on the part of the driver), but also to let them see where each are on a love map. Since Carpooling relies on all parties to connect at certain meeting points, doing so gives a bit of transparency.
Both drivers and passengers have profiles and each side can rate one another, just like on other similar platforms. That allows drivers and passengers to know who they’re riding with, which is important, especially over longer rides.
In order to make it as easy as possible for both parties to connect, Carpooling has integrated with Uber to help passengers get to meeting spots that the service suggests. Once a passenger has agreed to a ride, she will be able to launch Uber in order to reach a mutually convenient spot for pickup.
Carpooling is backed by Daimler, which invested $10 million in the company a couple of years ago.
But it isn’t the only long-distance ride-sharing platform to launch in the U.S. recently. Rocket Internet’s Tripda, which launched in Latin America and Southeast Asia earlier this year, also also came to the U.S. last month. Meanwhile, a BNB ride-sharing platform focused on the commuting market called Ride launched last week.