Margaret Khursigara, former executive director commercial business with the Green Building Council of Australia, has been appointed country head of Localift, the latest entrant to the “sharing economy” that aims to bring friends, family and community together by way of an app to share cars and cut fuel consumption.

And in the process save on carbon emissions.

The idea is the brainchild of banking and finance innovator Stephen Coulter – a former head of e-business for the Commonwealth Bank who was also key to online banking for NAB and ANZ – and Krystyna Weston, who has held a number of executive roles with AMP Capital, ASSIRT Research, MBF/Bupa, Rothschild and MLC.

Margaret Khursigara
Margaret Khursigara

Ms Khursigara said the idea has already sparked strong interest from corporates wanting to provide options to staff to cut travel costs and demonstrate carbon savings.

It will also appeal to parents seeking more convenient ways to ferry kids to school and activities, or major events.

The app for the program will feature a premium service for groups at $1.49 per month.

It will be launched first in New Zealand, in June, but India is expected to be a huge market as the app overcomes strong hesitation to share rides with strangers through Uber-style offers.

The NZ operation will be in partnership with NZ’s Automobile Association and Smartfuel, a petrol-based loyalty program, with both organisations providing free membership for the first 12 months.

NZ country head will be Blair Glubb.

Ms Khursigara said the reason NZ would be first with the app was because the market there was “more progressed”.

“New Zealand is such a great market. It’s also proving to be a very innovative country. New Zealanders seem to be quite open to new ways of doing things and to new apps. It’s also a smaller market and there are lots of partners interested in doing this.”

The Australian launch is expected in July.

She did not think the car share or sharing market in general was over-developed.

“I think that the pie is so big and has so much potential. If you look at things like Uber – there is always a place for Uber when you are somewhere where you don’t have family or friends.”

Localift would be good for people who did not want to ride with strangers, she said.

This would appeal to parents organising lifts for children to sporting or activity events, or among co-workers.

Distribution partners are able to have their own branded version, she said.

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