Happy birthday BlaBlaCar! A few days ago, the world’s most well known car sharing platform celebrated 5 years in Italy. The French company opened the doors of its Italian headquarters for the occasion, inviting journalists and local users to celebrate and show off the size of the community. Let’s talk numbers: there are 2.5 million platform users in Italy. Among 20–34 year old internet users, 17% of Italians are part of the BlaBlaCar community, and 8% of Italians between 35 and 44 are choosing carpooling. And BlaBlaCar is thinking of the future: by 2030, 40% of all the miles traveled by car could be shared.
Carpooling in Italy
As Andrea Saviana, Country Manager of BlaBlaCar Italy had already confirmed, Italians are really no longer skeptical or afraid of the idea of a car-sharing service. They just needed to be shown its reliability and safety, which is exactly what BlaBlaCar did in various ways. For example, all travelers have AXA insurance, and get feedback. The main group underpinning the platform’s success are weekly commuters, who go back to their hometowns to be with their families every weekend.
BlaBlaCar is not just a Car sharing platform–a product that seeks to spread a culture of sustainable travel–above all, it’s about the faces and stories of all the people who take part. During the event, Andrea Saviane told us stories about the users as if he were talking about a big group of friends. Nicola M., 27, moved from Genoa to Milan, and registered with BlaBlaCar to be able to go back to Liguria as often as possible. Flavia F., 48, is a nurse in Milan and commutes for love. People in Italy appreciate carpooling for the social aspect as well. In fact, friendships have blossomed, and so have professional opportunities. In short, BlaBlaCar is great for forming relationships. During a trip, people get to know each other, share their interests, and maybe even meet up outside of their travels. And this is exactly what members were telling me during the party at the Italian headquarters. For people who travel with BlaBlaCar, interacting is important–getting to know someone and telling their own stories.
Car sharing has no age limit
And it’s not true that only young people use car sharing. At the party, I met Antonella, who told me that her 70 year old father uses BlaBlaCar in Sicily, and how it made it easier for him to move around, going from one place to another, meeting new people. And since he couldn’t be at the party in Milan, he sent his daughter.
If we want to really understand the reasons for BlaBlaCar’s success — which I think is due to more than just the fact that it’s an efficient and useful service — we need to take it one step further and understand the sense of belonging it creates for its users.
We all feel a need to share, and I don’t just mean sharing the expenses for gas and tolls. Because 40 million users around the world want, above all, to be part of a safe and trustworthy community that is constantly working toward a greener, more sustainable economy, and one that makes travel a true life experience.