German rental car and mobility powerhaus SIXT recently announced a groundbreaking feature of its mobile app for booking taxis and rental cars: the ability to book a taxi with a “trennschutz” or safety partition. In this time of COVID-19 this clever move sets SIXT apart from its competition and, in fact, marks the company yet again as a mobility leader.
The message from SIXT to users of its mobile app: “From now on, our customers can book taxis with partitions or films between driver and passengers in the SIXT app. We support the efforts to gradually return to normal while avoiding new infections. The Sixt app is the first app in Germany to make this extra protection bookable. Many thanks to all taxi operators who invest in this protection for our mutual customers! The taxis can currently be booked in Munich, Düsseldorf, Cologne, Bonn, Bremen, Braunschweig and Dortmund – more cities will follow shortly.”
Perhaps most remarkable of all is the fact that SIXT made this move in the context of a severely depressed rental car and taxi market, with most regions under full or partial lockdown and many restaurants and retail locations and entertainment venues closed. SIXT clearly recognizes that potential passengers returning to public spaces will be seeking and will prioritize safer solutions over unsafe options.
In Germany, SIXT is in a pitched battle with FreeNow, the mobility arm of the Daimler-BMW joint venture. Earlier in 2020, SIXT exited the limousine business and shifted its strategy toward partnering with existing taxi providers. SIXT is now demonstrating the wisdom of this strategy by being able to more rapidly scale its app-based taxi offering to more cities and to add value by identifying those taxis equipped with safety barriers between the driver and the passenger.
The strategy is brilliant on several levels, including its ability to raise the profile of independent taxi operators that are themselves struggling to compete with ride hailing operators. It also further demonstrates SIXT’s ability to extend its mobility platform play which already includes rental cars and other transportation options.
More importantly, the move by SIXT showcases the company’s ability to respond nimbly in the midst of a crisis. With a simple enhancement to its mobile app, SIXT has jumped ahead of the entire global taxi industry by highlighting available taxis with safety barriers.
If the taxi industry in particular, or the mobility industry more broadly, is to recover rapidly from the dramatic falloff in business during the COVID-19 outbreak, it will have to demonstrate an awareness of and responsiveness to passenger concerns. Riders will seek out service providers that are taking steps to restore confidence.
SIXT’s simple mobile app enhancement has shown the industry the value of a nimble response to a crisis. SIXT has done the right thing for the safety of drivers and passengers. Best of all, the company did not wait for regulatory action. It is a demonstration of the power of the marketplace at its best.
In Berlin, Munich and Hamburg, the company is providing doctors and nurses at state and city hospitals, nursing homes and similar facilities with vouchers worth a total of €100 each. This will pay for their access to Sixt’s carsharing vehicles in those cities.
Considering the average journey time is about 25 minutes, the vouchers for Sixt share correspond to 10 working days’ worth of commuting. All that’s required is for staff to obtain them is to register in the Sixt app and provide proof of employment. The offer is valid until April 15.
“Trips in rental or shared cars help limit social interaction, as recommended by the authorities. They currently are a sensible alternative to public transport,” Sixt comments.
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