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Louélec drives toward becoming the Netflix of EV car sharing

Receives $3 million from Desjardins to expand fleet

Louélec, a Montreal-based company that provides electric vehicle (EV) subscriptions to professional drivers and businesses, hopes to become the Netflix of car rental services with its flexible, medium-term rentals.

Co-founded by CEO Leo Bouisson, David Blondot and Mathieu Courtat, Louélec offers its service exclusively to companies, taxi drivers and rideshare firms Uber and Lyft, helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

It is active in Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa with 500 EVs in its fleet, and partners with Uber to give its drivers the chance to rent an EV for a few months.

Bouisson, who spoke to Sustainable Biz Canada in an interview, said he wants to move the car rental industry away from the model of Hertz or Avis where a car is rented for three to four days and then returned. Louélec is also offering an alternative to leasing commitments for seven to eight years with an option to purchase.

“We want to be in the middle like Netflix did for movies or Spotify did for music.”

Now armed with $3 million in financing from Desjardins, Louélec can boost the size of its fleet toward the goal of 1,000 EVs by the end of 2024, Bouisson said. The financing will help it acquire 400 additional vehicles.

About Louélec

The name Louélec is a portmanteau of two French words: louer (rent) and electrique (electricity).

Bouisson, who has an engineering background and formerly worked for Bombardier, said he met Blondot and Courtat as they started Louélec with three cars.

He was intrigued enough to join the startup for three months until it reached a fleet of 20 EVs. The potential of the company made him realize they were “a good trio,” so he stayed on to help the company realize its goal of electrifying cars across Canada.

Louélec aims to offer more flexibility and a middle ground compared to its vehicle rental peers. A Louélec commitment goes from one to three months, as opposed to a few days for a rental, or a years-long lease with an option to purchase.

Uber or taxi drivers, Bouisson said, often hold their positions as a temporary job or are awaiting delivery of a car they've purchased. Louélec’s service has the space “to have a car in an affordable way without having to commit for seven years or to have to pay the standard rental fee which will be much higher than what we have.

“We’re going to be in the middle to try offer the best of both worlds,” he added.

A user can go on the Louélec website or the Uber driver’s app to choose EV models offered by Louélec, from companies such as Tesla, Chevrolet and Hyundai. Pick-up is then arranged at its offices in Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa.

Besides Uber, Louélec has partnerships with Aviva Insurance, delivery company Courant Plus and dealership Gravel Auto Group. It is also servicing taxi drivers in Montreal and real estate developers in car-sharing programs within their properties.

Its efforts have eliminated over 1,500 tonnes of carbon dioxide, the company’s tracking counter says.

Receiving funding from Desjardins

"This funding aligns with Desjardins's extensive efforts to support the energy transition and sustainable mobility," Jean-Yves Bourgeois, executive vice-president of business services at Desjardins Group, said in a release.

"Electric transportation is critical to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It also opens the door to responsible innovation and economic development for Quebec businesses. Louélec's ambitions are proof. We're very proud to have been with them from the start and to be a part of this next stage in their growth."

Louélec is investing in R&D for innovations in the field such as vehicle sharing for residents of multi-unit housing, universities and hotels, using AI to optimize equipment maintenance and implementing smart charging solutions.

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