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Bolt adds car-sharing service as next expansion path

Bolt Technology OU, which competes with Uber Technologies Inc in Europe and Africa, will roll out a new car-sharing project in the Estonian capital, according to founder and chief executive officer Markus Villig.

If the pilot in Tallinn proves successful, Bolt will quickly expand it to other cities as it’s done with the two-year-old food delivery service, which now operates in 20 countries, Villig said in an interview. The company will lease 500 cars for the initial stage, he said.

Car-sharing has been gaining momentum for the past past decade, with peer-to-peer services or fleets of vehicles linked via digital applications available in most major cities. The growing mobility industry is attracting billions of dollars in funding with bets on disrupting the traditional car-rental business model and on changes in ownership attitudes.

Bolt, which operates in about 40 countries in Europe and Africa, says it’s the first mobility platform in Europe to offer car-sharing, ride-hailing and micromobility with scooters and electric bikes in one app.

The latest addition, called Bolt Drive, will allow customers to unlock cars with the app and the company is betting it will prompt some drivers to give up car ownership.

“We are coming to the market with steeply lower prices than everyone else,” Villig said. This is a “price point where it truly makes sense for people to swap over for a car. “

After a $20 million fund raising round from the World Bank in March, Bolt is now valued at more than $2 billion. The company, whose previous investors included Daimler AG and China’s Didi Chuxing Inc., may raise additional funds over the next 18 months, subject to plans for expansion and negotiations with investors, Villig said.

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