Time to create the car leasing service of the future.

Together with SC Next Mobility, we were about to take on an industry in need of digitalisation, namely the private car leasing market. The goal was to dispose of the outdated, manual procedures and instead make it possible to rent a car without any human involvement, end-to-end. Going for an agile approach in this project was a new way of working for our client and with that said – we were in for quite an exciting journey.

In Brief

  • Private car leasing based on real, human, everyday life.
  • A solution capable of scaling alongside the company’s growth.
  • End-to-end.

Tech stack

Nuxt.js/Vue Elixir, Phoenix Contentful Docker

How it all began

Mitsubishi, which shares the parent company (SC Motors) with SC Next Mobility, had previously offered a digital solution for private car leasing. The solution was a great start, but not completely in line with current digital customer behaviour. Instead, SC Motors decided to put together several smaller projects aimed at exploring different ways of creating a modern solution for private car leasing in Sweden. By the end of 2019 they had come up with a clear vision of what needed to be done and through SC Next Mobility, it was time to put ideas into action.

SC Next Mobility wanted to create a more generic, scalable and all round better solution than the one Mitsubishi provided. They were also looking for a technical partner who could help them break new ground. Thanks to the due diligence they did together with their concept partner Pimm, and by recommendation, Prototyp was offered to come up with a solution. A solution that would be compared to a broad estimate they already had.

By examining what needed to be done, we could provide a more narrow estimate and a more specific solution that fit the needs of SC Next Mobility. A solution that sat very well with our two contacts, Christian Lystrup (SC Next Mobility) and Kristine Lium (Pimm) – mainly because of our agile approach which provided enough space for flexible product development.

And as if that wasn’t enough, we also had the honor of working with the well renowned design agency One Day Interact.

Prototyp’s organisational strategy, by especially having a Tech Lead taking the wheel, made it possible for their whole team to engage closely with both the process itself, but also with business and design stakeholders. It’s the main reason why we chose to go along with Prototyp as our technical partner. – Kristine Lium (Concept Director, Pimm)

The team

Christopher Laursen
Tech Lead, Prototyp

Toni Oriol
Developer, Prototyp

Stefan Larsson
Developer, Prototyp

Adrian Berger
Developer, Prototyp

Beatrice Lundevall
Developer, Prototyp

Jacob Hallenborg
Developer, Prototyp

Elin Lemon
Summer intern, Prototyp

Damien Gengler
Summer intern, Prototyp

Gustaf Burström
Product, SC Next Mobility

Peter Andersson
CEO, SC Next Mobility

Christian Lystrup
GM Commercial Development, SC Next Mobility

Ivica Prgomet

Jonas Engkvist

Charli Kasselbäck

Kristine Lium

Cira Wikström

The unknown

From one business-critical integration to five

There was one business-critical integration planned at the start of the project: the connection with DNB Bank, and their ability to process incoming orders. This in turn was then developed further into a feature that provided additional credit checks.

As the project progressed, we discovered numerous potential features that would add much value to the product as a whole. We eventually identified four more business-critical integrations, including integrations to Entryfy and Scrive (incl. Scrive eID) as a way for users to verify a booking, open the PODs and pick up the car for a test drive.

As the agile approach was new to the SC Next Mobility team, we quickly established an open infrastructure for the project so we could keep a clear dialogue and avoid communication mishaps. This was also a way for us to make quick decisions, be able to think outside the box and focus on what we actually wanted to accomplish. Every week we had to stop to reflect and ask ourselves if we still had the right priorities and if anything had come up that would make us want to change the direction the project was going.

Car bookings and pick up

We were able to build and finish our booking and pick up system relatively early on but as the process progressed new questions came to surface:

  • How do we verify allowing a person to lease a car?
  • How do we identify and make sure it’s the right person picking up the car?

We raised these questions during our “sprint planning session” and Gustaf Bjurström (SC Next Mobility) suggested verifying customers by using DNB as their integration was already a part of the overall solution. We contacted DNB to see if we could “piggyback” on their existing integration for credit checks and as it turns out – we could.

"Is everything we first specified actually important? That was something we started asking ourselves more and more throughout the project." – Christopher Laursen, Tech Lead, Prototyp

Availability on public holidays

Mid-project we came to realise that there were still quite a few elements that required human involvement one way or another and questions that hadn’t occurred before the project started to come to mind. One such question was, “what about pickups on Christmas Eve or other public holidays, when there’s no staff on site?”.

We started looking into what it would take to create an automation of blocking public holidays and days when no staff were available, but in the end our time estimate, and its presumed complexity, made us choose a more manual solution to the problem. We simply made it so the staff would have to log on to the system and manually block public holidays in advance.

The first demo

Displaying the homepage

The first line of code was written in February and besides the sprint 0, which usually doesn’t involve a lot of wow-factors anyway, a homepage was displayed showing the upcoming demo. The advantage of first building and showing off the homepage was the fact that we could also show different components (such as CTA buttons and the FAQ module) which would be reused on different pages on the site later on.

"When we could see the homepage, the brand and the features coming together, a sense of pride spread across the team." – Kristine Lium, Pimm

The configuration flow for leasing a car showcase, end-to-end

Mid-April, a few weeks into the project, was the first time we could showcase the flow of how a user chooses and books a car completely end-to-end (incl. the DNB integration). We displayed how a user could choose the color of the car, leasing period, tyres and even if the car required a towbar or not. On top of that we could also display a completed action all the way to the backend and the back office system we had built.

The great thing about an agile approach is that the client (usually) gets to see results very early on in the process. We’re always trying to create hands-on value and this particular demo was something that put a smile on everyone’s lips. We had achieved our first goal!

Pivots & perspectives

To build a back office

When the project first started we saw no point or need for building a back office to handle incoming orders. SC Next Mobility also wished to see if they could use any of their already existing internal systems instead, as it was easier for them to understand and clarify as they went along.

However, we did realise that the product would need it’s own back office in order to gather the necessary information for the overall solution. Said and done – and today's back office still looks and works more or less the same as the first version we created back in 2019.

Being able to choose different credit providers proved irrelevant

Initially we made the decision for the user to be able to choose between different credit providers, something that proved completely irrelevant for the user and made our job more complicated. We wanted UGo to be a service for someone who wishes to live a simpler life with a car which made them having to choose their credit provider a weird thing to do.

Having to build something concrete and finishing the product asap whilst still keeping it flexible enough to be able to make changes in the future – that’s the tricky part with product development.

The finished product

UGo Next – Car leasing of the future

UGo Next launched in Stockholm, September 2020 – completely “bug-less” which tends to be the reward of iterating a product. At this very moment, more than a year after launch, we at Prototyp are still highly involved in the project and have taken on an even bigger and more active role as semi product owner.

👉 See how the service works

And what’s even more amazing is that we’re now getting requests for a white-label solution.

"The coolest thing about the UGo project is that we’ve proven that people are willing to book their leased cars using a digital flow, that the cars preferably are picked up from a central location and most often outside traditional business hours." – Kristine Lium, Pimm

The test drive

After having worked on the project for a while, we realised that a missing feature was allowing the customer to test drive the car. Although, having spent some time trying to come up with a specific solution and estimating it’s time frame, we decided to put that feature on hold until we had launched the service.

Since we already had a DNB integration, which in turn uses Scrive for their agreements. We chose to create an integration for Scrive eID to be able to identify and verify a user wanting to book a car for a test drive. A fundamental aspect of our choice was being able to meet the already existing customer behaviour on the Swedish market, which meant being able to offer BankID as a way for users to identify themselves. It’s relatively common to use a third party such as Scrive eID to integrate BankID and by doing so, one is able to skip getting certified and the extra work it takes to do it yourself.

By the end of the year we launched the feature for test driving cars. To book a test drive the user must be over 18 years of age, hold a Swedish drivers license and identify themselves with BankID. The morning of the test drive the customer receives a text with a QR code which acts as a key for the door of the POD. Meaning, a completely autonomous experience where the customer goes through the entire flow without having to see a single other human being.

Since launch we’ve experienced a high demand for testing the cars and it turned out to be a good move to increase the volume of the PODs.

Key takeaways

Established yet again – the product owner is important

Initially there was no appointed product owner which, as usual, isn’t a requirement for us at Prototyp to get started. Even though we had a gut feeling telling us the client’s management would be highly involved in the project from the start, there were times when we had to make smaller decisions and it was a bit tricky having to chase down management who, from time to time, had other things to prioritise.

We all agreed that a product owner was needed and one joined the project from an external resource.

Involved and encouraging partners is key for an agile approach

We quickly decided on an agile approach, even though this was a completely new way of working for the SC Next Mobility team. We did see the risks involved, but it was at the same time this decision that landed Prototyp the project to begin with. Since the project started, the agile approach has been met with nothing but optimism and high engagement from SC Next Mobility management – which also proved to be key as to why UGo Next is now put in the “100% successful project” pile.

How do you build a tool that can change people’s worldview?