BlaBlaCar bids to grow its 20m members in Asia and Latin America

A popular car sharing service is hoping to expand into Asia and Latin America as it bids to pair up half-empty vehicles with passengers around the world.

BlaBlaCar App.

BlaBlaCar App.

BlaBlaCar says it has built up a network of  20 million members in 19 different countries, but is hoping to extend that even further in the coming year.

The service is simple – matching cars where there might just be a driver travelling alone over a long distance with prospective passengers going the same direction, who can then contribute to travel costs for fuel and tolls.

The company told Lonely Planet: ‘[Our] short-term expansion plans are focused on emerging markets, particularly in Asia and Latin America.’

The average distance of a ride in a BlaBlaCar is 200 miles and the service can work particularly well around big cities where car ownership can be expensive and where large numbers of people are always looking to leave for business or personal travel.

In the UK, the savings on the average ride are estimated at around 79% of the price of an off-peak single rail ticket.

And the company maintains the service is environmentally friendly, considering the car journey would probably have taken place anyway with perhaps just the driver.

They estimate that ‘500,000 tons of oil equivalent [were] saved in the last two years – enough energy to light Los Angeles for one year’.

The average occupancy of a car is 2.8 people and prospective drivers and passengers can pair up with set rules on the level of conversation that is likely.

Dependent on how much interaction they want, users can mark themselves from bla (quiet as a mouse) to blablabla (extremely chatty).

The service is part of one of the fastest-growing sectors of the travel sector, the sharing economy.

Airbnb and Couchsurfing have already carved a significant slice of the accommodation market putting guests in touch with prospective hosts while Uber – the informal taxi service – has been causing an even bigger stir in cities around the world.

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