UAE-based car rental firm Ekar eyes Saudi expansion

By Shilpa Annie Joseph, Official Reporter
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Middle East’s first and largest car-sharing network Ekar is planning to increase the number of its workforce in Saudi Arabia this year, as it sees rising demand for its services in the Kingdom.

UAE-based Ekar was founded in 2016 by Venezuelan entrepreneur Vilhelm Hedberg as a 15-car pilot program for Etihad Airways and has now grown to around 2,000 cars across the UAE and Saudi Arabia with plans to increase its fleet to 10,000 by the end of this year.

Vilhelm Hedberg
Vilhelm Hedberg
Co-Founder & CEO

“Ekar has a strong regional presence with offices in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Riyadh and a staff of 104, with 32 based in Riyadh. As the company looks to continue growing and expanding over the next few years, the expectation is to have a staff count of over 200 by December 2021, with over 70 of them expected to be based in Saudi Arabia. Ekar is at an inflection point, and is expected to grow its revenue by 400 times in 2021 in comparison to the previous year (2020), with the main focus being on reaching profitability by year-end 2022.”

As a private company Ekar does not reveal its financial details, but it has stated that despite travel restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, its business grew by 16.3 percent year-on-year in 2020.

In November last year, the company has launched Ekar Fleet, which allows car rental companies to upload their spare fleet of cars to the app. The company CEO has stated that the initial results have been positive for the fleet service and, as a result there will be a surge in business.

Further, he commented that Saudi Arabia will remain a key market and he sees “tremendous potential,” with the company’s subscription model set to be launched in Riyadh in April.

“With the company’s subscription model scheduled to launch in Riyadh in April, he believes Saudi Arabia will remain a key market with “tremendous potential,” concluded Mr. Hedberg.

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