Google Maps endorses car sharing with BlaBlaCar integration

23 August 2017

23 August 2017

French car sharer BlaBlaCar has won access to a gigantic new audience and source of growth with direct Google Maps integration on smartphones. This means that the hundreds of millions of people worldwide who research travel routes on Google Maps in 22 countries will see BlaBlaCar car sharing as a route option alongside car, walking and public transport, as well as times to travel to their destination. While short of getting a dedicated tab in the service like Uber, it is the first time Google Maps has integrated a car sharing option, and is a massive boost for what is a much smaller startup, as well as an endorsement of car sharing as a choice for mainstream audiences. 

The option is to be rolled out to all 22 countries in which BlaBlaCar operates, reports LesEchos, with France, Italy, Spain, Belgium and Poland among eight already having the choice in Google Maps, the first getting it in July, and the service gradually rolling out to other countries such as Germany, Russia and Brazil. It will help BlaBlaCar achieve its symbolic goal of passing 10 million rides offered in France alone by this summer. 

BlaBlaCar director of parnerships Philippe Cayrol told JDN: ′We want to be present on every site where a passenger is trying to compare transportation options.’ It has similar smaller-scale collabotations with route comparison websites Kelbillet, GoEuro and the ViaMichelin travel planner. Cayrol says Google Maps is used especially for irregular, unusual trips – potential customers it hopes to tap into. 

Cayrol added: ′Google is increasingly referring to long-distance transport solutions. People can be brought [through Google Maps], knowing [car sharing] exists, to study several options. 

′[Google Maps integration] shows [car sharing] has become a mode of travel in its own right.’ 

BlaBlaCar appears as a new sponsored option in the public transportation tab of the Google Maps app on Android and iOS. Just like it gives estimated times it would take to reach your destination via other transport options such as by train, Google Maps offers an estimated time it would take via BlaBlaCar car share, using the same estimated time as by a normal car ride. It also estimates the cost of the ride, which is the same price as if you booked through BlaBlaCar directly. However, Google gets a small cut referral fee if you book by clicking through from Google Maps. Clicking a BlaBlaCar link in the Google app will take you directly through to the BlaBlaCar app, or the Android or iOS app store to download it if not already installed. The user can also see the number of trips available for the specified route over the next 24 hours. 

On Google’s side, in addition to boosting choice in mobility options, it will help the company address criticisms of monopolising in promoting only one mobility company (car hailer Uber), especially one in which its parent company invests. The EU recently hit Google with a record €2.3 billion fine after the EU judged its search business was undertaking monopolising practices. Google Maps also has similar partnerships with transport providers in other world markets. 

BlaBlaCar is especially popular for longer journeys, such as between cities, where the option is often highly cost-effective compared to other means of transport. It began offering competitive leasing deals to its customers for Opel cars in April in partnership with ALD.  

In France, Google Maps has entered into agreements with the SNCF and certain public transport authorities to integrate them into route calculations, but without redirecting users to their apps to buy their tickets. Only Uber is already integrated in Google Maps, getting superior placement to BlaBlaCar through a dedicated tab, in part due to its high volume of users.