Thailand-based ride-sharing firm Muvmi aims to provide greener first and last-mile connectivity solutions in several cities across Southeast Asia as more major cities here start building and extending their mass transit systems.
Besides expanding its footprint within Thailand, MuvMi is also looking to bring the services to other cities in the region, especially the ones with rapid transit systems which could use its services to solve the first and last-mile mobility issues, filling the gap from public transit to commuters’ destination.
“I think the realistic timeline will not be this year. But definitely, by next year, we probably going to have a look,” Krisada Kritayakirana, Co-Founder and CEO of MuvMi, told TechNode Global in an interview.
For Thailand alone, MuvMi is eyeing a 10 times growth as the company looks to expand into other major cities in the country, besides Bangkok.
“Our goal is to expand 10 times. We want to serve 10 times more customers, which means we have to expand our fleet. By end of the year, we are aiming for 1000 electric vehicles operating daily,” Krisada said.
MuvMi’s electric Tuk-tuks are currently serving multiple areas around Bangkok, the capital city of Thailand. Passengers can request a ride via its mobile app and its fares start at 10 Thai Baht ($0.28). The on-demand ride-sharing service, conveniently moves passengers around their neighborhood and connects them to the mass transit stations in the city. The ride-sharing service is affordable and it is also a greener option as all the vehicles used are 100 percent electric ones. Its e-Tuk-tuks can travel up to 80 km per 30-minute charge.
MuvMi also sees tremendous opportunities in the region as more cities are building their mass transit systems to relieve traffic congestion. Besides Bangkok, MuvMi is eyeing Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta and Ho Chi Minh City.
“When governments build mass transit systems, they could not build stations in front of everyone’s house. The challenge is always how to connect people with the mass transit system,” Krisada said. “You could use [ride-hailing like] Grab. But the difference for us is that we make it affordable to share the rides. The price we offer, the starting price is half the price of other ride-hailing services.”
Pooling passengers traveling in the same directions or areas could help to lower fares, he said.
The demand for services to fill these gaps will grow as the number of commuters of these mass transit systems in the region grows.
“I think [the MRT] in KL is well-established already. In Jakarta, they’ve just started the subway system. It’s the same for Vietnam. Soon they will realize they need some way to fill these gaps [between residential areas to metro stations],” he said.
“We are looking at the micro-transit, short-distance traveling. Tuk-tuk is just part of the hardware we use, but we are not officially a Tuk-tuk company. We are a micro-transit company where we see how do we fill the gap for people traveling short distances,” he explained. “It could be like tourists visiting Thailand or it could be people traveling to work every day. After they get out from the BTS (Bangkok Mass Transit System) how do they get to the office and so on.”
According to IT firm Via, micro-transit is simply tech-enabled shared transportation that lives in the space between traditional fixed route transit and ride-hailing technology. Its routes are nimble; its “schedules” are not really fixed, as they shift constantly based on riders’ demand; and its vehicles range in size from vans, shuttles, or buses, the firm said.
In Kuala Lumpur, the first phase of the Mass Rapid Transit Line 3 (MRT3) is expected to open in 2028, while the entire project is slated for completion by 2030. The alignment will be connected to the existing rail network for a more complete, integrated and efficient public transport system in the Klang Valley.
The Greater Jakarta Light Rail Transit (LRT) is expected to start operations in December this year or early 2023, according to media reports. The Ho Chi Minh City metro is expected to open in 2023. In Bangkok, commuters can use the BTS Skytrain and the Metropolitan Rapid Transit (MRT) to travel around the city.
MuvMi currently has more than 130 electric vehicles. The majority of its fleet is e-Tuk-tuks and the remaining are electric taxis.
MuvMi, specifically designed for urban areas and an algorithm that groups passengers traveling in similar destinations together, will focus on two areas, according to Krisada.
“One is the high-density area where there is mass transit. Then we help to connect [passengers to stations], being the first, last-mile solutions or help them to move within the area,” he said. “The other one is like the one we did in Rayong, where there is no public transportation system and it is costly to have a bus or train system in the area.”
Rayong is a city on the east coast of the Gulf of Thailand and the capital of Rayong province.
“We could use smaller size vehicles, but we use the same fleet management system software to help maximize the utilization of the vehicles,” Krisada said.
Smart energy firm Banpu NEXT is MuvMi’s strategic investor. The startup has also conducted crowdfunding through the Thailand-based crowdfunding platform PeerPower.
“Banpu NEXT is our main strategic partner who supports us with smart energy, both batteries as well as charging infrastructure. Currently, we have more than 20 charging stations in the area where we operate,” he said.
Biz NEX, a joint venture between Thairung Group and MuvMi, manufactures MuvMi’s e-Tuktuks.
Thairung Group is an integrated automobile group, with more than 50 years of experience in car-manufacturing, vehicle dealerships (Lexus, Mazda, Isuzu, Ford, Nissan), car rental service (Bizcar Rental), car subscription (Eazy Car), used cars business (Jingjai Used Car), property management, cleaning and maintenance services (U-sabai).
“Another unique point of ours is that we also design the EV in-house. One of our founders has been working with electric vehicles over 15 years, from three-wheelers to 12-meter buses. We design the EV we use in-house to serve our needs. For the manufacturing part, we have a joint venture with one of the largest manufacturers in Thailand, Thairung Group,” Krisada added.
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