Russia becomes BlaBlaCar’s biggest market

The ride-sharing service expects strong financial contributions from Russia in the next 4-5 years

Russia becomes BlaBlaCar’s biggest market
Photo: OuiShare

Since entering the Russian market four years ago, France-originated ride-sharing service BlaBlaCar has gained bigger popularity in Russia than in its homeland. The company plans to invest 10 million euros in Russia next year and to begin to make profits on its operations, which aren't yet monetised.

Russia has overtaken France as the biggest market for French ride-sharing start-up BlaBlaCar, reports Reuters. ''We are talking about 15 million members in Russia, which means that more than one Russian of ten is already signed in BlaBlaCar. We are speaking about over 3 million Russians that are transported by BlaBlaCar every month,'' said the company's co-founder and CEO Nicolas Brusson.

According to Brusson, BlaBlaCar plans to invest 10 million euros in Russia next year, which is more than the start-up's total investments over the past three-four years. The service offers a mobile application designed to match passengers with drivers who have spare space in their vehicle and are heading to the same destination. In Europe, BlaBlaCar has two models of making money: it takes a service fee from passengers for every journey or allows the use of its app under subscription.

BlaBlaCar was founded in Paris in 2006. Photo: David McSpadden

As for Russia, the service is not yet monetised like in European Union markets, as passengers pay for their journeys in cash directly to drivers. Nonetheless, BlaBlaCar is boosting investment in the Russian market. ''Next year, we will invest as much as we've done in the last 3-4 years,'' said Brusson and added that the activity was just doubling year on year, and there was a real need the company could help address. Russia can become a very strong financial contributor for BlaBlaCar in terms of four to five years, believes the businessman.

Brusson considers that his project gained success in Russia due to several reasons, one of which is cultural. Russian people ''are more used to sharing and got the features of the service faster'' than in Europe, where the company had to work hard to persuade customers in the safety of ride-sharing. In Russia, not long ago it was normal to hail a private car in the street to take a ride for a modest fee.

The second reason BlaBlaCar did well in Russia ''is the size of the country, the shape of the country. It's a kind of perfect for long distance cooperation because of a big population, lots of big cities we can help connect,'' said Brusson. He also considers that Russia's current economic situation may encourage people to choose his service to ''save money and drive cheaper''.

By Anna Litvina