All aboard

German Greyhound rival prepares launch in California

Vorstand FLIXBUS
These executives will happily take you for a ride: André Schwämmlein, left, and Jochen Engert. Source: Thomas Dashuber for Handelsblatt

After sewing up its home German market within five years of its launch, Flixbus now aims to expand in the US, challenging Greyhound Lines, the national bus service launched in 1914 that services more than 18 million customers each year in North America.

Flixbus’ founders and executives told Handelsblatt the company would initially offer bus service between Los Angeles as its main hub and Las Vegas, San Francisco and the Bay Area. “We aim to start in the first half of the year,” said Jochen Engert, in a joint interview with co-founder André Schwämmlein. Asked if Flixbus would try to emulate its rapid European growth strategy in the US with a dense network of routes across the West Coast, he added: “We’ll test our service with a network in California and will take a look at the figures at the end of the year. We’re not going to stand here now and claim to be bigger than Greyhound in four years.”

Mr. Engert said the US market was attractive because it was similar to Europe’s and offered good growth prospects — and because Greyhound was not unassailable. “Of course, Greyhound is the iconic brand,” he said. “But we ask ourselves whether the image really still is that iconic; there’s a lot of unused potential.”  That, he argues, explains why companies such as Uber and Lyft have entered the market.

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