Carsales has unveiled a technology startup called Placie, a transport app incubated inside the classifieds business over the past three years.
Placie is an app that will allow consumers to plan and book trips combining multiple modes of transport using real time data from private and public transport providers.
Carsales is the majority shareholder in Placie, which is a separate business with more than 20 employees.
Placie's executive chairman Stephen Wong - who is also Carsales' chief strategy officer - told iTnews that access to all the “might of Carsales” has helped the app come to life.
“It has the ability to move quickly as a startup but it also has the backing and all the resources of the $5.5 billion technology company that is Carsales," Wong said.
The “digital mobility platform” will launch in beta over the coming months and roll out more widely in 2021.
To use the app, consumers enter their destination and preferred modes of travel and are then presented with two options: the fastest way or the cheapest way to travel.
Payment is also managed through the app and Placie earns a commission on all trips booked.
The system uses APIs to integrate with public transport networks and private transport providers including 13Cabs, Ola, Silvertop Taxis and Black & White Cabs.
Wong said Placie will cover 70 percent of all the taxis in Australia, 90,000 rideshare drivers and 1500 black cars, as well as plugging into parking options, car rental, airport shuttles and electric scooters.
The backend is provided by a company called SkedGo Technologies, which is used in hundreds of cities around the world.
“Each of the private transport service providers needs to be integrated into our platform… which gives us the ability to view where their supply is, understand what price that supply is available at and be able to book it through our experience,” Wong said.
“It's a very complex technical challenge to navigate but is something that - once you have it -means that you've got quite a sustainable barrier to entry.”
Carsales said the new business is a move to address how consumers want to get around in the future.
“Carsales has a strong heritage in business-to-consumer marketplaces, and innovation and investment in technology and product," Carsales CEO Cameron McIntyre said.
"With Placie, we have the ability to develop this culture and our technology competencies into a new business in a high growth market."
The company sought the advice of Stanford University to develop the business model, technology approach and how it could be integrated with smart cities and digital infrastructure.
“Placie is highly complementary to the work that local and state governments are undertaking to build smart cities," McIntyre said.
"Mobility-as-a-service can play a meaningful role in optimising built infrastructure, boosting the liveability of our cities and regions and encouraging private sector innovation and participation."