Startup Of The Week

Startup Of The Week: WeVee

WeVee, a UK-based digital platform that has developed a service for individuals and businesses to lease electric vehicles, is transforming into a technology and lifestyle brand for the environmentally conscious. It plans to offer clients the possibility to access all forms of electric transport: e-bicycles, e-scooters, e-cars, vans and buses, and eventually sea and air travel too. The business model is B2B2C. Customers find leasing opportunities through their employers, who can benefit from carbon offsets by providing electric vehicles (and the necessary charging infrastructure) to their employees.

Financial backing for worldwide expansion was orchestrated by two German-born international businessmen: Rahmyn Kress, the former Chief Digital Officer of Henkel, a German maker of chemical and consumer goods, and auto industry executive Michael Perschke, who previously worked in senior roles at Mercedes, Audi and Mitsubishi. The two are now the co-founders of the brand’s global operations in markets beyond the UK, joined by WeVee founder Paul Fagan, who has 20 years experience in the UK leasing industry.

The EV price comparison and leasing platform, which Fagan launched in the UK in March 2020 to support fast growing demand for electric vehicles, currently attracts up to 100,000 British visitors per month. It took its first steps towards becoming a global e-mobility lifestyle platform and marketplace, after getting a financial injection in July from a line-up of top European angel investors, industry leaders and global tech entrepreneurs. They include Maurizio Rossi, Founder and Co-CEO of Italy’s H-Farm, Riccardo Zacconi, co-founder of and Massimo Della Ragione, a former  Goldman Sachs partner.

WeVee is now raising a $7 million round for its global expansion. It plans to launch in Germany later this year, followed by  France, Italy and Spain in 2022.

“The time is ripe,” says Kress, who spent the last 18 months focused on purpose-driven investment through HumanCapitalNetwork, a venture capital and private equity firm he co-founded that offers bespoke advice to family offices and supervisory boards. It was his idea to diversify WeVee’s approach. “There’s no going back. The future of transportation is electric, and we will be the first solution for anyone who wants easy access to transportation they know is clean and good for society,” he says. “There’s no better foundation to build this on than what WeVee has designed for EV leasing.”

Other UK companies focus specifically on leasing electric vehicles, such as energy company Ocotopus’ Octopus EV, and Onto and ElmoDrive.

WeVee has a number of differentiators. It prides itself on offering motorists the most comprehensive range of vehicles, price comparisons and finance packages – along with independent advice and guidance when choosing an electric car. Its range spans more than 50 models across 30 brands, from household names like Tesla, Mercedes and Jaguar to less well known brands like Polestar and Rivian.

In future the platform’s offering will diversify to include commercial e-vehicles, motorbikes and scooters as well as related services including insurance. Think of it as the “first fully integrated digital lifestyle platform service for individuals and businesses,” says Kress.

The platform has seen a huge surge in appeal rooted in its B2B2C business model, which helps company car drivers capitalize on salary sacrifice (non-cash benefit) schemes that can lower motoring costs by half. From April 2020, zero emission cars pay 0% company car tax, with the UK government having committed to freezing rates at between 1%-2% for the next five years. Many European countries witnessed a double-digit growth rate in EV sales in 2020. The European market captured around 43% of the global EV sales in 2020, compared to 26% in 2019. Overall sales of plug-in vehicles reached 3.24 million units, compared to 2.26 million in 2019 and annual sales are projected to cross the five million mark by the end of 2025, accounting for 15% of overall vehicles, according to WeVee.

“WeVee is set to become a real game changer,” says Perschke, who most recently was the founder and CEO of sustainable luxury car brand Automobili Pininfarina. “If we build out the model as we intend to, we will help companies provide easy and cost-effective e-mobility solutions to their employees, as well as tracking and improving their carbon footprint.”

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About the author

Jennifer L. Schenker

Jennifer L. Schenker, an award-winning journalist, has been covering the global tech industry from Europe since 1985, working full-time, at various points in her career for the Wall Street Journal Europe, Time Magazine, International Herald Tribune, Red Herring and BusinessWeek. She is currently the editor-in-chief of The Innovator, an English-language global publication about the digital transformation of business. Jennifer was voted one of the 50 most inspiring women in technology in Europe in 2015 and 2016 and was named by Forbes Magazine in 2018 as one of the 30 women leaders disrupting tech in France. She has been a World Economic Forum Tech Pioneers judge for 20 years. She lives in Paris and has dual U.S. and French citizenship.