By Parag Deulgaonkar
Affordability remains a strategic objective as the company works to bring down service cost
Dubai-based ride hailing app Careem is planning to launch a carpooling service in the Middle East, and globally, according to company’s chief executive officer.
In July 2016, state-owned Road and Transport Authority launched Sharekni, a smart app, to promote car-pooling among residents to ease traffic congestion. However, neither Careem nor its competitor Uber has tapped into this business category.
Speaking to Arabian Business, Mudassir Sheikha said affordability remains a big strategic objective for them and are working to bring down their service cost further through carpooling.
“If you look at the markets where we have been, we have already tried to reduce prices and make our service more affordable. Carpooling is one other way to achieve the affordability of the service and this is definitely on our radar.”
Sheikha referred to the introduction of local taxis on its platform in Dubai “as a way to make its services affordable”.
“Say you are a price sensitive customer, or you are using the service few times a day; the cost of a limo becomes prohibitively expensive, then you always have an option to get a taxi and avail a more affordable option though our platform,” he said.
When asked about the possibility of scrapping the $0.82 (AED3) surcharge imposed per trip from January 23, Sheikha said the surcharge was necessary to maintain their growing business.
“The surcharge is one of the ways we are trying to make our business more sustainable so that we keep offering our services as we are offering [now], and we can start improving our service in places where we might be lacking at the moment. So this is just an attempt to make the service better and better over time.”
While in December 2016, Careem raised $100 million (AED367 million) from Saudi Telecom Company, Sheikha ruled out any immediate plans for fund raising.
“There is some interest and if we feel that engaging that interest will help the strategic growth of the business then we will consider it. But, at the moment, the focus is on growing the business through the money that we have raised,” he added.