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Israel-based car-sharing service provider GoTo has a network of 150 electric cars in Malta, with active user numbers exceeding 3,000 at the time of publication. Laura Jasenaite, Chief Commercial Officer of GoTo Malta, tells Business Malta about the growth prospects of GoTo, and the current sentiment of their market.

GoTo was launched at the beginning of November 2018 after winning a public tender issued by Transport Malta seeking a car-sharing service provider to reduce dependency on owning cars in the island nation. The Israeli firm has ten years of car-sharing experience and uses its in-house technology that they also provide to other companies.

“The principle is that instead of owning a car, multiple people can use the same car through different times of the day. Therefore the number of cars on the roads and in parking places can be reduced,” Ms Jasenaite says. GoTo’s car-sharing concept comes on time, as roads in Malta have seen an increasing grade of congestion.

For the time being, Malta is the only country in the world where GoTo operates by only using electric vehicles. GoTo uses its own infrastructure; they have built the charging stations they use, and they see further expansion in this regard.

“We brought the service of car-sharing to Malta, and we are also building electric charging stations. Our goal is to build a total of 225 charging stations. Currently, we have 450 designated parking spots in Malta, but not all of them have charging stations, as we have 60 chargers, for now. Our goal is to add charging stations to all our parking spots,” the commercial chief says.

The charging stations and parking spots are exclusive to GoTo cars at the moment; however, the company is planning to open up their parking spots and charging stations for the public once they reached their 225 charger goal.

Gradually growing market

At the moment the firm is trying to understand the demand of the Maltese market before they would start planning expansion. GoTo Malta records 460 one-way trips per day on average, numbers upping to an average 600 per day on Fridays and Saturdays. As the service is growing in user numbers, and fuelled by this increasing demand, GoTo Malta can easily imagine growing further. “If we are going with the same level of growth, we will be introducing new cars,” Ms Jasenaite says.

In terms of car usage, the most popular area for car-sharing is the Great Northern Harbour. There are multiple reasons for this tendency, but one of the major drivers is that the area is the most active from an economic perspective, and it is where most of the expats live.

“There are three main groups of our customers. The first is expats who live in Malta for a few years only, who do not intend to buy own cars. The second group comprise of environmentally-conscious people who opt for our service in making efforts for protecting the environment. The third group of people uses our services for easier parking, especially in the heavily congested areas, using our designated parking spots. They might own cars, but it is much easier to drive into the busiest towns knowing that they will surely have parking spots,” the chief says.

Another exciting characteristic of GoTo users is that they are not exclusive to car-sharing; instead, they would use all other means of transportation. “What we see is that our customers usually are not exclusive to car sharing; they use several other forms like public transport, riding taxis, walking, riding bikes or driving their own cars,” Ms Jasenaite says.

Looking into the future, she believes once people realise how comfortable electric vehicles are, the shift toward EV will happen swiftly. “The Renault ZOEs that we use can go close to 270 kilometres with one two-and-half-hour charging stop,” she points out, adding that the charging costs are also lower than paying for fuel.