04 Nov 2021
Barcelona, Spain
Sustainable Mobility

Would you know how to build a mobile booking app? Online reservations, both convenient and efficient, play a pivotal role in electric car-sharing initiatives and other sustainable transport projects. Users will feel less tempted to own a private car with a mobile app to help them find a shared car, reserve it, and pay their fare. Yet if sustainable transport groups do not have the world’s best IT skills, they can turn to The Mobility Factory (TMF), a European social cooperative offering technical support for car sharing services.

In 2018, work started on developing the TMF mobile app between Spanish cooperative (and Switcher) Som Mobilitat and its Belgian counterpart, Partago. After just three years, the TMF app has around 2,200 users spread across five European countries, with 15 sustainable transport cooperatives signing up to the TMF community. “Every time a cooperative decides to join the TMF ecosystem, we realize that the story we are telling makes sense,” said Carla Gómez Castellví, TMF’s Community, Process and Communication manager.

Before TMF was established, co-founding cooperatives Som Mobilitat and Partago participated in the REScoop.eu network for sustainable mobility across Europe. Members from the two cooperatives forged a common goal: to build an easy-to-use and effective mobile app for managing electric car-sharing services.

TMF pulled together a team of technical experts with extensive experience in software engineering. After months of hard work, the IT stars produced the TMF mobile app, which allows users to locate electric cars, make reservations, pay online, find charging stations, and much more.

The TMF platform operates on a Software as a Service (SaaS) basis. TMF’s affiliated cooperatives simply pay to access the cloud-based software, which can then be shared with that cooperative’s members. Happily, the cooperatives do not need to hire IT staff of their own, with TMF’s technical team on call to handle any glitches.

The TMF community has grown impressively within a short timeframe. At present, the TMF mobile app is used by sustainable transport cooperatives in Belgium, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. Affiliate cooperatives jointly own TMF’s software and reach all decisions democratically.

Growing support for TMF’s platform has helped the enterprise to become financially sustainable. TMF can pay salaries to staff members from both income-generating activities and membership fees paid by affiliate cooperatives.

Relentlessly forward-thinking, TMFs technical team wants to improve the cooperative’s platform even further. Developing “roaming” capability would give users greater flexibility, and even open up the prospect of affiliate cooperatives sharing one, Europe-wide fleet of electric cars.

In Castellví’s view, platforms like TMF need to keep improving in order to spread their sustainable transport message further. “To bring in new collaborators, we must keep innovating and offering improvements to the platform,” she explained.

What is more, Castellví added that eco-friendly commuting relies entirely on convincing as many people as possible to join. “A switch to sustainable mobility is essential, and we can only achieve it together,” she said.


Learn more about The Mobility Factory through the website.

Photos courtesy of The Mobility Factory


David Wood is a freelance writer and researcher based in Beirut. He previously worked in Cairo.David Wood
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