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CareDriver: Mobility with a Heart

ŠKODA AUTO DigiLab

Pilot project in Munich: ŠKODA AUTO DigiLab is testing mobility and social services for children, seniors and disabled people together with the start-up CareDriver. Specially qualified drivers assist people requiring support in their day-to-day lives and free time.

It’s a bitterly cold March afternoon in Munich’s old-town district of Lehel. As he does each day, freelance designer Gerd Brederlow (64) waits at the intersection for his younger brother Bobby. Bobby Brederlow (56) is autistic and unquestionably the best-known mentally disabled actor in Germany. He acted alongside stars like Senta Berger and Veronica Ferres and has appeared in such popular German TV shows as “Tatort” and “In aller Freundschaft”. But things have quieted down around Bobby of late. “He has suffered from dementia for three years now,” says Gerd Brederlow, who has cared for his brother at his home for the past 29 years. “He was independent before and could even fly alone. Today he doesn’t even know what a spoon is and is afraid of stairs.”

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Bobby Brederlow has been living with his brother in the Lehel district of Munich since their mother died in 1989.

More Than Just a Driving Service

Actor Bobby Brederlow has been suffering from dementia for three years and uses CareDriver every day to travel to his care institution.

A white ŠKODA Octavia* pulls into the street: “Here comes Bobby”, says Gerd Brederlow cheerfully. The driver helps the actor out of the car and guides him to his brother. “Bobby is cared for during the day at a social institution, the Monsignore-Bleyer-Haus in the Pasing district. Since I have to work until 4 PM, I can’t pick him up myself. That’s why we rely on a personal driving service,” says the designer. Until a year ago, Bobby rode a bus, but it became increasingly burdensome as time passed. “The drive clear across the city took over two hours, which is difficult to handle for a person suffering from dementia.”

CareDriver has two of its own cars in Munich, both ŠKODA Octavias. More vehicles will be added soon.

Now Bobby is driven by the driving service CareDriver, a start-up initiated by the ŠKODA AUTO DigiLab. The digital unit of the Czech carmaker commissioned the company builder “Creative Dock” to set up the company in 2016. The idea: to create a driving service, including care services, specially designed to meet the needs of people with disabilities, seniors and children. The service can be conveniently booked via an app or by phone and paid for with a credit card or via PayPal. It’s no accident that CareDriver is offered initially only in Munich. The city has a plethora of health and care facilities and an above-average proportion of families in which both parents are employed.

Reliable Drivers, Loyal Customers

CareDriver CEO Markus Feichtinger is pressing ahead with the start-up. The company aims to expand service to other cities soon.

The team from CareDriver manages the service from a top-floor office in the Maxvorstadt district, just a stone’s throw from Ludwig Maximilian University. “We deliberately chose this central location,” says CEO Markus Feichtinger. “Our CareDriver service is designed to serve people, so it’s important for us to be in the center of the city and to be involved in city life.” The office exudes the classic start-up atmosphere: fancy espresso machine, energy drinks next to laptops, an improvised seating area. In one room there are stacks of child seats, as well as boxes with sweets and coloring books. “Parents are still our biggest customer group,” explains Feichtinger. “Our driver’s don’t simply bring the kids from point A to point B – they personally pick up their charges at the daycare or school and bring them to piano lessons or sports, from hand to hand.”

“Our CareDriver service is designed to serve people, so it’s important for us to be in the center of the city and to be involved in city life.”

Markus Feichtinger

The parents place a great deal of importance on the reliability of the drivers; they have to know to who they are entrusting their children.” So CareDriver does not currently offer short-notice drives; most routes are planned some days in advance. “We can’t be compared to a traditional taxi company or UBER. The big difference: 98% of our customers are return customers who have a clearly defined need for mobility and care services on a weekly basis,” says the CEO. In terms of price, CareDriver can keep pace with traditional taxis. One hour costs 16 euros, which includes a trip of five kilometers, with each additional leg costing 1.50 euros.

A year after being founded, the customer base is still modest – roughly 120 customers book roughly 170 drives each month. CareDriver has two of its own vehicles so far. If needed, for example to transport wheelchair users, partner companies are tapped to add additional capacity. “We plan to add accessible vehicles such as modified Volkswagen Caddy models to our fleet,” says Feichtinger.  

Vision for the Mobility of the Future

He sees great potential in the health sector overall. “We are increasingly working together with health insurance companies, retirement homes and hospitals,” explains Feichtinger. CareDriver also works together with Audi BKK, which provides important industry insights. The market is currently dominated by non-profit providers such as Caritas, the Red Cross and the Johanniter. However, they generally offer group drives that take up a lot of time for each individual. “But people want more individual trips. A person with dementia like Bobby Brederlow needs his own space and a personal relationship with his driver,” notes the CEO of the start-up.

At this point CareDriver is still in a pilot phase; the project is intended to establish the viability of the business model. In close collaboration with ŠKODA AUTO DigiLab and Volkswagen research in Wolfsburg, the Munich-based start-up is drawing up a vision for the mobility of the future. The key questions in that process: “How do the mobility needs of our particular target groups differ? What requirements have to be fulfilled for the transport of seniors, children and people with disabilities? Would the use of autonomous vehicles be a possibility for these people? These are the questions that we want to answer,” says Feichtinger.

Gummi Bears for Tessa

Change of scene: An elementary school in Aubing, the westernmost part of Munich, shortly before 2 PM. CareDriver driver Ralf Schaal is waiting for the bell to ring in the auditorium. Scarcely has the bell rung before Tessa storms out of her classroom and gamely shakes her driver’s hand. Each Thursday Ralf Schaal drives the eight-year-old across town for acting lessons at Theater Schauburg. Tessa likes her jovial and warm driver. “He’s always there to pick me up and sometimes he even has gummi bears.” It warms Ralf Schaal’s heart to hear such kind words.  

For over 40 years he worked in the laser industry before a long injury sidelined him. Once he regained his health, the family man learned of CareDriver through a newspaper article. He first started driving as an independent contractor and is now employed by the company. “I really enjoy taking care of the children and people with disabilities. And I also have the feeling that I’m doing something worthwhile. I drive Alzheimer patients in an advanced stage, for example, and it’s very gratifying when they recognize me and gain trust,” says Schaal. For him, working for the start-up has been something of a fountain of youth: “CareDriver is more than a transportation service provider. I take care of the passengers as if they were my own children or relatives.”  

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  • *Consumption value

    ŠKODA OCTAVIA 1,5 TSI ACT 110 kW (150 PS)
    
Fuel consumption in l/100 km: urban 6.1–6.0 / extra urban 4.3–4.1 / combined 5.0-4.9; CO2 emissions combined in g/km: 114–112; CO2 efficiency class: B


    ŠKODA OCTAVIA 1,5 TSI ACT DSG 110 kW (150 PS)
    
Fuel consumption in l/100 km: urban 6.2-6.1 / extra urban 4.3-4.2 / combined 5.0-4.9; CO2 emissions combined in g/km: 115–113; CO2 efficiency class: B


    ŠKODA OCTAVIA COMBI 1,5 TSI ACT 110 kW (150 PS)
    
Fuel consumption in l/100 km: urban 6.3-6.1 / extra urban 4.5-4.3 / combined 5.1-5.0; CO2 emissions combined in g/km: 116–114; CO2 efficiency class: B

    ŠKODA OCTAVIA COMBI 1,5 TSI ACT DSG 110 kW (150 PS)

    Fuel consumption in l/100 km: urban 6.2-6.1 / extra urban 4.3-4.2 / combined 5.0-4.9; CO2 emissions combined in g/km: 115–113; CO2 efficiency class: B

    ŠKODA OCTAVIA 1,8 TSI 132 kW (180 PS)

    Fuel consumption in l/100 km: urban 7.6 / extra urban 5.2 / combined 6.1; CO2 emissions combined in g/km 139; CO2 efficiency class: C

    ŠKODA OCTAVIA COMBI 1,8 TSI 132 kW (180 PS)
    
Fuel consumption in l/100 km: urban 7.6 / extra urban 5.2 / combined 6.1; CO2 emissions combined in g/km: 140; CO2 efficiency class: C

    ŠKODA OCTAVIA 2,0 TDI 110 kW (150 PS)
    
Fuel consumption in l/100 km: urban 5.2-5.1 / extra urban 3.9-3.8 / combined 4.4-4.3; CO2 emissions combined in g/km: 114–112; CO2 efficiency class: B-A


    ŠKODA OCTAVIA COMBI 2,0 TDI 110 kW (150 PS)

    Fuel consumption in l/100 km: urban 5.2-5.1 / extra urban 3.9-3.8 / combined 4.4-4.3; CO2 emissions combined in g/km: 114–112; CO2 efficiency class: B-A


    ŠKODA OCTAVIA 2,0 TDI DSG 4x4 135 kW (184 PS)
    
Fuel consumption in l/100 km: urban 5.6 / extra urban 4.6 / combined 5.0; CO2 emissions combined in g/km: 131; CO2 efficiency class: B


    ŠKODA OCTAVIA COMBI 2,0 TDI DSG 4x4 135 kW (184 PS)

    Fuel consumption in l/100 km: urban 5.6 / extra urban 4.6 / combined 5.0; CO2 emissions combined in g/km: 131; CO2 efficiency class: B

    ŠKODA OCTAVIA G-TEC 1,4 TSI 81 kW (110 PS)

    Fuel consumption in l/100 km: urban 7.5 / extra urban 4.7 / combined 5.7; CO2 emissions combined in g/km: 131–101; CO2 efficiency class: B-A+

    CNG consumption in kg/100 km: urban 4.8 / extra urban 3.0 / combined 3.7


    ŠKODA OCTAVIA G-TEC 1,4 TSI DSG 81 kW (110 PS)

    Fuel consumption in l/100 km: urban 6.7 / extra urban 4.8 / combined 5.5; CO2 emissions combined in g/km: 125–98; CO2 efficiency class: B-A+

    CNG consumption in kg/100 km: urban 4.5 / extra urban 3.1 / combined 3.6

    ŠKODA OCTAVIA RS 245 2,0 TSI 180 kW (245 PS)

    Fuel consumption in l/100 km: urban 7.9 / extra urban 5.5 / combined 6.5; CO2 emissions combined in g/km: 149; CO2 efficiency class: D - C

    ŠKODA OCTAVIA RS 245 2,0 TSI DSG 180 kW (245 PS)

    Fuel consumption in l/100 km: urban 8.5 / extra urban 5.5 / combined 6.6; CO2 emissions combined in g/km 149; CO2 efficiency class: C

    ŠKODA OCTAVIA COMBI RS 245 2,0 TSI 180 kW (245 PS)

    Fuel consumption in l/100 km: urban 7.9 / extra urban 5.5 / combined 6.5; CO2 emissions combined in g/km: 149; CO2 efficiency class: C

    ŠKODA OCTAVIA COMBI RS 245 2,0 TSI DSG 180 kW (245 PS)

    Fuel consumption in l/100 km: urban 8.5 / extra urban 5.5 / combined 6.6; CO2 emissions combined in g/km: 149; CO2 efficiency class: C