Peugeot announced earlier this week that it was launching a new mobility hire service in the UK with an innovative green twist. Our reporter Craig Thomas finds out exactly what the French carmaker’s new bikes, vans and everything in between service can offer…
By Craig Thomas
Peugeot has just launched a UK pilot programme called Mu, its a metropolitan mobility service based in London and Bristol, which will run until the end of 2010.
Mu takes advantage of Peugeot’s unique position as the only volume carmaker that also builds bicycles, scooters and vans, which allows customers access to all of these forms of transport to solve their mobility needs.
The scheme is web-based, with customers signing on online at a dedicated website and paying for credits that can be exchanged for the use of anything from a wide range of Peugeot cars, vans, scooters, bicycles or accessories. The scheme is operated from existing Peugeot dealerships, with the pilot restricted to one in Chiswick, west London, and one in the centre of Bristol, both owned by Robins and Day.
Mu (the name is derived from the French verb mouvoir, which means ‘to move’), is available not just Peugeot customers – although in France, where the scheme has been piloted in four cities already (Rennes, Lyon, Nantes and Brest) 80% of Mu subscribers have been owners of cars with the rampant lion on the nose. However it arguably makes more sense to the many city dwellers who don’t own a car because they would only use it infrequently.
This is not just a hire scheme to rival the many commercial car rental companies, though: Mu offers considerably more flexibility and a range of mobility options that address the requirements of every demographic, from singletons to multi-generational families.
So, for example, if you want a van to move house, go to pick up some furniture or building materials for a DIY project, you can use your points to borrow a Peugeot Boxer. Alternatively, if you have a small family car, but want to go on a day trip with visiting relatives, a seven-seat 5008 MPV could be an option. Or if you want a car to impress on a hot date, the latest RCZ sports car could be yours for the night.
But Mu isn’t just for four wheels: if you just want to hire a bicycle to get around town, you can use your credits for that. There’s also a wide range of scooters available to buzz around town on – ideal if you have a lot going on around the city and a tight schedule.
That said, Peugeot claims to be the leading low CO2 manufacturer, and there are numerous diesel cars and vans available to hire via the Mu scheme, which will augmented by the i0n electric car that the company will launch at the end of this year.
So how does it work? You first register for a Mu account at the website (http://www.mu.peugeot.co.uk/), after which you will receive confirmation via email. A membership card will then be generated and sent to you. You then purchase points from the website, using a credit or debit card, which can be exchanged for whichever form of transport you wish to use. Bookings are made in advance – it’s not possible to just turn up at the dealership – and the minimum hire period is half a day. There are age stipulations – a minimum age of 21 for access to most of the range, and 25 if you wish to drive the RCZ or any of the coupe-cabriolets – but these are broadly similar to those you’d find at any hire company.
Each point costs the equivalent of £5 and tariffs for the different mobility options vary. For example, rental of a 50cc scooter (including helmet and protective clothing) for half a day costs 70 points (£14), with a whole day costing 90 points (£18). A 207 supermini, on the other hand, costs 125 points (£25) for half a day or 175 points (£35) for a whole day. If you want the latest RCZ sports coupe, a day will cost 400 points (£80), while bagging one for a special weekend mini-break will set you back 700 points (£140).
The scheme is innovative as not only does it give consumers access to a range of mobility solutions, but it can also match a specific model to the consumer’s specific mobility needs. It should also lower individuals’ carbon footprints: if you need to plan your car usage in advance, it’s likely to be less indiscriminate than if you own a car; it allows you to use a scooter (with its lower emissions) instead of a car if you don’t need four-wheeled transport; and, with diesel hybrids and electric cars being added to the Mu fleet, it might be possible to restrict your usage entirely to low-CO2 cars.
Peugeot anticipates that Mu will generate 10,000 European customers by the end of 2010 and plans to have schemes in place in 200 cities by the end of 2012. If other companies jump on the bandwagon and launch similar schemes, it could be a real solution to questions of urban mobility.