Car-rental companies have long reliably provided transportation options to travelers, but the prospect of waiting in line and completing paperwork (even if it takes only a short time) can be off-putting to some. Thus, French startup Virtuo has unveiled a platform that cuts out the check-out counter and allows users to handle the entire process of picking-up and dropping-off the car straight from their smartphone.
The process of arranging a car begins when the user creates an account in the Virtuo app, using their passport or national ID, driver’s license, and a selfie. From there, the user chooses between several insurance options and selects the pickup location (must be same as drop-off). A few hours later, the user is presented with a virtual key, which will enable the person to automatically unlock the car when they are within range.
In terms of the auto, users are offered access to a fully-loaded Mercedes A-Class, including standard automatic transmission, rear camera, Bluetooth, navigation system, and more, for 49 Euro per day (although an additional driver can use it for free). And the Virtuo app allows the user to monitor fuel consumption and the distance that they travel.
Virtuo was founded in December 2015, but launched at the beginning of this month. Co-founder Karim Kaddoura tells me that they have picked up “thousands” of users since going live. The startup has thus far focused on Paris, operating at Charles de Gaulle airport, the city’s main train stations (Gare du Nord, Gare de Lyon, and Gare Montparnasse), and Place de Madeleine, but they are expanding to airports Paris Orly and Nice Cote d’Azur.
Going forward, Kaddoura tells me that they are planning to expand their core service with an on-demand rental service for businesses and private customers (at a premium). And, as the service uses virtual keys, they are considering a valet service that would drop the auto off at your home or work. And finally, like many startups, they are interested in geographic expansion. In this case, they are looking to expand to all major airports and train stations across Europe.
Helping in those efforts is the 1.7 million Euro that they raised from a handful of private investors, including Xavier Niel.