Over the past year and a half, UFODRIVE has expanded significantly, launching in 14 locations across the US. CEO Aidan McClean calls 2023 a “record year” and discusses plans for 2024.
Since its launch in 2018, UFODRIVE has launched in dozens of locations across Europe, mainly city centres and airports, from London to Brussels, Paris to Dublin. The first trial location was in Luxembourg, with the help of then-CEO of Lux-Airport, René Steinhaus.
UFODRIVE CEO Aidan McClean explains the original concept: “We wanted to take away all the pain of the car rental experience and make it a super digital experience, make car rental from something people hate to something they love, and do it only with electric cars.”
Closer to profitability
Now six years in the making, UFODRIVE has put over half of the $30m it has raised into technology. McClean says that “business has tripled since funding two years ago. In 2023, we had the highest growth ever, doubling revenue year-on-year, getting closer to profitability.” It’s also finalising a funding round for its next phase and, although McClean couldn’t disclose the exact amount, he says it’s not as big as its Series A round.
Although a good year, McClean says it was also a tough one, in terms of investor wariness and a combination of factors, from interest rates to a shaky geopolitical environment.
Hertz Corporation was one of the biggest investors in UFODRIVE’s Series A funding, both in terms of wanting a stake in the company and also for access to the technology to help them electrify their fleet.
There’s also an ongoing project with Hertz to automate 24/7 van rental across Europe. Merchants Fleet—the US-based fleet delivery service for Amazon, for instance—is another top client.
At the time of writing, UFODRIVE was also close to finalising a deal with “one of the top five major OEMs in the world,” but it was too soon for McClean to say which one. However, the upcoming announcement “is huge: tens of thousands of vehicles will be put on our platform, so it’s a great deal for us.” The CEO adds that this OEM has plans to transform the dealer experience, automating how customers book demo cars.
“Range is irrelevant”
Over the past year and a half, the company has expanded across 14 locations in the US. McClean, who is also the author of Electric Revolution: Myths & Truths about Electric Vehicles and Climate Disaster, says that the US is “rapidly catching up” in EV, while he praises how far countries like the Netherlands and Norway have progressed. Luxembourg, he adds, is on the right path, and “fair play to the Lux govt for putting an emphasis on this.”
Both McClean and UFODRIVE are putting efforts into encouraging people to use EV, but there’s still what he refers to as “range anxiety” in terms of how and when to charge, and whether a charge will hold up over longer distances. His book aimed to demystify such notions.
“Every single major technology shift in human history goes through a classic curve where early adopters jump on it, but people start looking for problems. Incumbents start attacking it… We’re in this classic trough at the moment,” McClean explains, though he anticipates it’ll smooth out.