Peugeot drives back into the US market but not with cars

It’s been 26 years since Peugeot last set foot on US soil. It shut down its north American operations on August 6 1991. But on Wednesday it returned as a service provider, not an automaker. 

The company that can currently claim to be France’s largest carmaker in terms of volume is returning to the States in general and to Seattle in particular to launch Free2Move, a smartphone-app-based transport aggregation service.

Rather than provide users with direct access to its own short-term rental car or a ride hailing service, Free2Move crunches the data available from a myriad of existing service providers, from Car2Go and Zipcar to those on two wheels such as Spin Bike. Then it calculates the optimum way for a user to reach his or her destination based on cost, time and availability.

“As mobility services evolve and innovate based on the way people think about and consume mobility, bringing Free2Move stateside provides us with a unique way to address consumer demands, as well as a flexible platform to roll out future products,” said Groupe PSA’s North America President and CEO, Larry Dominique.

The service is already live in the company’s native France as well as the UK, Germany, Spain, Italy Austria and Sweden and boasts over 400,000 regular users. The company plans to roll out the app across the US gradually starting in Seattle as the city is currently investing heavily in integrated mobility.

“We’re pleased to announce today that we will begin our North American operations in Seattle,” said Groupe PSA senior vice president of mobility, Brigitte Courtehoux. “As we begin to add more providers and roll out to new cities, Free2Move will enrich the lives of Americans who embrace innovative, non-traditional forms of transportation.”

Like all major established automakers, Peugeot is taking steps to reinvent itself as a mobility provider rather than simply a car company. General Motors and Jaguar Land Rover have both invested millions of dollars in Lyft. Daimler, Mercedes-Benz parent company has its own car sharing business, car2go, and only last week snapped up US-based ride sharing start-up Via Transportation with the aim of expanding its services to continental Europe.

“The decision to launch a service that helps people move around in the most efficient way underscores our commitment to the future of Groupe PSA,” said Groupe PSA’s North America President and CEO, Larry Dominique. — AFP Relaxnews