On Sunday, car rental start-up firm Ekar, which is based in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, announced that it had raised $17.5m in a Series B round that closed back in June.
Polymath Ventures, which is also based in Dubai, led the round and was also joined by Audacia Capital and Al Yemni Group.
Ekar was founded four years ago back in 2015 – the firm allows users to pay by the day, hour or even minute for car rentals in the UAE, and has now expanded its services to cover Saudi Arabia.
To use the service, customers must download the app and then register with a valid ID, credit card and driver’s licence.
Cars can then be located on the app and the closest vehicle booked for however long they feel necessary.
The booked car can then be unlocked with the app.
The key will be located in the glove box, and is retrievable with the use of a personalised pin code.
Ekar’s vehicles in Abu Dhabi and Dubai can be accessed at prices that start from as little as AED0.6 per minute.
The vehicles are provided with free fuel and they can be refuelled at Ekar’s partners’ petrol stations.
Ekar is currently serving more than 50,000 bookings every month in the UAE, with over 1,000 available vehicles in its fleet, according to the company’s official website.
The CEO and co-founder of Ekar, Vilhelm Hedberg, says that the company is delighted to have gained a specific number of strategic investors who share the firm’s passion for providing cost-effective mobility in emerging markets.
Hedberg adds that the in-house tech team at Ekar now has the ability to scale the company all across MENAT.
Polymath Ventures’ managing director Ali Hashemi says that they believe that the future in regard to sustainable mobility are smart systems as well as shared transport platforms such as Ekar.
Hashemi says that Polymath Ventures invests where innovation is being driven by teams that want to have tomorrow’s problems solved today, and hopes to help Ekar succeed.
Ekar has also announced that it is beginning operations in Riyadh, marking the company’s expansion into Saudi Arabia.
600 Ekar cars will be available in Riyadh, and Ekar is also planning to expand into other cities such as Dammam, Mecca, Rabigh, Jeddah and Medina at some point.
The Saudi version of Ekar is integrated with the digital product Yakeen, which helps customer information to be verified by businesses with government data, and Tamm, which is used for any information or transaction involving vehicles.
Hedberg says that in the UAE, Ekar services as many as 50,000 bookings in a month, and this is expected to quadruple over the course of the next year because of services in cities in Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Gulf.
Anyone who drives a motor vehicle in the UAE requires car insurance to legally do so.
Car insurance is a great way to ensure that in the event of accidents or car theft, the owner does not end up paying the financial cost.