Cox Automotive has established a new mobility services unit that combines existing businesses, such as its Flexdrive subscription service, with its acquisition of Clutch Technologies' subscription software platform to deliver fleet management solutions for mobility fleets, the company has announced.
The Mobility Solutions Group, as it will be known, will better position the company to take part in the mobility revolution, which could be worth more than $1 trillion by 2030, said Sandy Schwartz, president of the Atlanta-based Cox Automotive.
"Cox Automotive is continually evolving — delivering digital retailing solutions for the immediate term while developing and investing in solutions that will fuel new mobels of consumer mobility and enable fleet management well into the future," Schwartz said. "The future of mobility is a massive business opportunity."
Cox has acquired Clutch Technologies, an Atlanta-based consumer vehicle subscription service that its enterprise fund helped develop. The company was incubated as part of Cox Enterprises' Innovation Fund. Cox Enterprises is the parent of Cox Automotive. In 2014, the company created Flexdrive, a vehicle subscription technology and services company. Since 2017, Flexdrive has been a joint venture with Holman Enterprises, the parent of fleet management company ARI. It enables subscription services from BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, and 30 dealer groups in 26 states.
The Mobility Solutions Group will be led by Joe George, who has been named president. George leaves his role as interim president of the Media Solutions Group, which includes brands such as Autotrader, Dealer.com, and Kelley Blue Book. George's new trio of direct reports will include David Liniado, vice president of new growth and development; Jenny Bedard, head of finance; and Vince Zappa, president of Clutch Technologies.
"We're already pros at reconditioning, managing vehicles as assets, perfecting the consumer experience, and developing elegant software solutions to make complex operations more efficient and profitable," George said. "We're looking forward to helping clients disrupt the traditional car buying and ownership models in ways that are advantageous for their businesses."
The mobility group will also fold in other Cox initiatives such as the fleet services it provides to carsharing and ride-hailing companies such as BMW's ReachNow, Getaround, and Lyft. Cox Automotive has also invested in Getaround; Ridecell, a carsharing and ride-hailing technology platform; and Ouster, a maker of LiDAR sensors for autonomous vehicles.
"As consumers increasingly turn to shared fleets to meet their mobility needs, it will be essential for fleet owners and operators to ensure the maximum in-use time for their vehicles," according to the company.
The unit is expected to touch Cox Automotive's other business units including Manheim and RMS Automotive. Manheim with its 78 physical remarketing locations would likely provide reconditioning for mobility service vehicles that need to be quickly cleaned and maintained on a regular basis. Manheim has invested $27 million on its reconditioning operation since 2015.
RMS Automotive, which provides digital Private Stores for manufacturers, captive finance companies, and other large vehicle portfolio owners, could help mobility fleet owners optimize their vehicle portfolios by providing insights into residual values so fleet owners know when to sell units to increase portfolio returns.
Consumer attitudes about vehicle ownership have shifted in recent years. Research by Cox Automotive shows that 39% of respondents now say access to mobility is necessary and owning a vehicle is not — a 5% increase from 2015. A majority of urban consumers (57%) say mobility access is more important than vehicle ownership — a 13% increase from 2015.