SINGAPORE: Singapore-based Goldbell Group on Friday (Feb 5) confirmed plans to acquire electric-car sharing firm BlueSG, saying it will invest more than S$70 million into expanding the firm's business and technical capabilities over the next five years.
Goldbell said it expects the acquisition to be finalised by August, with French conglomerate Bollore Group - which BlueSG is a subsidiary of - continuing to manage operations until then.
BlueSG was launched in 2017 as part of a national electric-car sharing scheme with the Land Transport Authority and the Singapore Economic Development Board.
It currently has about 650 vehicles and more than 1,200 charging points islandwide.
The 41-year-old Goldbell Group meanwhile is Singapore's largest commercial vehicle leasing company, whose subsidiaries include on-demand mobility startup SWAT and xSquare, which specialises in autonomous warehousing solutions.
Speaking to CNA on Friday, Goldbell chief executive officer Arthur Chua said Bollore will continue to run BlueSG's existing electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure even as Goldbell takes over the car-sharing business.
"The DNA of Goldbell, our domain expertise, is in vehicles, it's in fleet management and mobility ... we invest only in what we understand," he said.
He declined to reveal how much the deal is worth, but said the S$20 million to S$25 million estimates previously reported by the Straits Times was "understated".
The S$70 million investment will go to areas such as adding new vehicles to the fleet. Mr Chua said that Goldbell is looking to include other types of EVs to the fleet, beyond BlueSG's signature white hatchbacks.
It also plans to partner other companies to allow BlueSG users to charge their vehicles using their EV charging points.
Goldbell will also establish a new research and development centre with a dedicated technology team that will work on developing new mobility technologies and algorithms.
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Singapore will act as BlueSG's global headquarters, said Mr Chua, adding that there are plans to expand the business regionally.
Among the potential revenue streams being considered for BlueSG is corporate car-sharing, where companies allow their employees access to dedicated fleets, he added, noting Goldbell's experience with vehicle leasing.
Goldbell had first considered entering the car-sharing market a decade ago, he said, adding that it continued to monitor the sector even though the experience of other companies suggested it was an area that was "very hard to become profitable in".
The company first got word that BlueSG was planning to sell the business in June last year, he said, and had been in discussions since then.
It was previously been reported that BlueSG had incurred millions of dollars in losses since it began operations here more than three years ago.
However, Mr Chua said he saw potential in the business due to a continuous increase in adoption rates, which shot up after the COVID-19 outbreak when some were hesitant to take public transport.
"In a nutshell, we do believe that the adoption rate for car-sharing businesses is ready now and will continue to increase over the next few years," he said.