Soaring fuel prices see French turning to ride-sharing apps

French ride-sharing app BlaBlaCar now has 1 million members worldwide
Employees of French ride-sharing app BlaBlaCar, pictured in 2015. Photo: Patrick Kovarik/AFP
Spiralling fuel prices are powering a surge in global demand for carpooling, the operator of the French ride-sharing app BlaBlaCar said on Tuesday as it passed the 100-million-global-user mark.

The Covid-19 pandemic spelt disaster for ride-sharing services but since last month travellers have been turning to BlaBlaCar in unprecedented numbers, the French company told reporters on its 15th anniversary.

BlaBlaCar’s CEO and co-founder Nicolas Brusson linked the surge in demand – between 450,000 and 500,000 new users worldwide per week in September, many of them motorists – to the spiking cost of fuel.

“It’s obviously related to the rise in petrol prices,” he said, adding that the company was growing for the first time since 2019.

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BlaBlaCar, one of France’s first tech unicorns (startups valued at over $1 billion), was at the vanguard of the sharing economy, connects motorists with people needing a lift between cities.

The ‘BlaBla’ in its name refers to an original feature of the app, which saw users specifying how much they wanted to chat on their journey, a feature popular with foreigners wanting to improve their French while on the road. 

The company, which employs 700 people, operates in 22 countries.

Unlike Uber, drivers are not professionals, with prices capped so passengers just help them cover their costs.

Brusson did not say how many of its 100 million customers were active users but said 90 percent of the app’s newcomers lived outside of France.

Global energy prices have soared as economies bounce back from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Prices of natural gas, oil and coal have all jumped in Europe.

In France, the price of diesel hit a record 1.5583 euros a litre on Monday.


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