Fleet Density: Calculating How Many Units to Launch

16th July 2019

All share-fleets require a minimum level of density in order to be profitable.

As the business model for public fleets is predicated on convenience and utility, your riders must be able to easily find and access a vehicle close to their search location.  In this blog post, I will explain in high-level the various considerations an independent operator should account for when determining how many units to launch.

Coverage Area Definition

The coverage area refers to the boundaries you intend to set for the usage of your fleet.  These boundaries will indicate to your riders where they are allowed to use your bikes or scooters.

Coverage Area Size

Many prospective operators will feel inclined toward covering the entirety of a city/town in order to maximize the convenience to their riders.  This decision comes at a cost, however.  A fleet’s density will subsequently decrease if more units are not released.  Even massive, venture capital backed fleets do not allow users free range within the entirety of a city.

As initial capital expenditure may be an issue, the independent operator may wish to consider confining their fleet to the most populace neighbourhood with the most relevant demographic profile in their region.

Your riders will be incentivized to use your system if they can travel a sufficient distance.  Most fleets start with at least 10km2 for a coverage area.

Fleet Size

Studies and best practices suggest having no fewer than 3-5 units per thousand people within the set geographic boundary.

Fleet size = [Population / 1,000] * 4

Fleet Positioning

Your units must be close enough to a potential rider that they are encouraged to walk to the location to collect a vehicle.  Best practices suggest that the distance between units should be no more than 100m for optimum fleet usage.

Fleet Availability

An important consideration regarding your fleet is that not all of your units will be active on any given day.  You may choose to withhold deploying some for operational reasons.  They may also not be available due to the need for maintenance or, in the case of electric vehicles, for recharging.  Thus, the independent operator must factor in this unused percentage (typically 20-50%) into their models when considering how many units to purchase.

Consequences

A profitable fleet must be of sufficient size; it is important to calculate before launching.

Launching with too few vehicles will almost certainly ensure that the independent operator does not see a return on their investment.

TL;DR

20-50 units won’t cut it for an independent public fleet.  If you’re serious about your fleet, put out 3-5 vehicles/1,000 people in your coverage area. Your coverage area should be at least 10km2.  Purchase 20-50% more units than you want to have deployed on any given day.