Shared Mobility Thoughts


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Switzerland Carsharing: Comparing Carsharing Schemes, Summary on Study by Henrik Becker

Sep 12, 2017

Reviewing a recent study by Henrik Becker and Francesco Ciari of ETH Zurich, we get to know more about what’s going on in the world of carsharing in Switzerland (where our founder, Sandra Phillips, originates) and specifically we understand more about user groups and usage patterns.

Switzerland Carsharing Schemes

Looking at Basel, Switzerland’s third biggest city, which lies in the northwest region bordering Germany and France, we see that this is the only city in Switzerland currently offering both station-based and free-floating carsharing schemes.

  • Basel’s station-based carsharing scheme: Operating since 1987, Mobility Carsharing offers access to almost 3,000 vehicles of various types at 1,500 carsharing stations. Members can either buy a share of the cooperative or subscribe to the service for an annual fee. Rentals are charged both by the hour and by distance travelled.
  • Basel’s free-floating carsharing program: In August 2014, the free-floating carsharing program Catch a Car (now also available in Geneva) was launched in Basel, Switzerland. With this program, members can access 120 cars of the type VW Up at various areas distributed around the city through the website or smartphone-app reserved up to 15 min in advance. Similar to other free-floating schemes, members pay a registration fee upfront and then only pay on a per-use basis. At the end of the journey, the vehicle can be parked on any public parking spot within the service area.

Switzerland Carsharing Member Demographics

So who is contributing to the memberships of both the station-based and free-floating carsharing programs in Basel? The report’s demographics give us ample insight:

  • 70% of the free-floating car-sharing members in Basel are male, compared to 60% for the station-based car-sharing service
  • Men are substantially overrepresented among car-sharing members, compared to their share of 55% in the control group of drivers license holders. Yet, the difference is only significant for free-floating members, but not for station-based members.
  • Relevant research literature has already documented that station-based carsharing attracts customers several years younger than the average adult population.
  • The average age of free-floating carsharing members was found to be even lower than that of the station-based carsharing service, with half of the free-floating carsharing members being less than 36 years old.
  • 70% of the members of the free-floating carsharing scheme and 75% of the station-based members held a university degree.
  • Only 3% of the carsharing members were retirees.

Switzerland Carshare Usage Patterns

Naturally, free-floating (A-B) and station-based (pick up and drop off at the same location) carsharing operations are expected to serve different markets.

To capture this difference, carsharing members were asked to provide details about their most recent carsharing ride. Here’s what the answers revealed:

  • More space for transporting cargo: Most of the trips undertaken with a station-based carsharing vehicle were shopping or leisure trips, or trips where the customer had large items to carry, which is the main reason for using station-based carsharing. 50% of the station-based members carried large items on their last ride, compared to 23% of the free-floating members.
  • Efficiency in commuting: Free-floating carsharing service was employed for multiple purposes. In particular, there was also substantial usage for commuting and airport transfers. 76% of the free-floating members stated they used this carsharing method as it was the fastest option.
  • More space for passengers: Whereas 64% of the free-floating trips were conducted by a single driver, 58% of the station-based cars had two or more people on board. Consequently, the average occupancy was significantly higher for station-based carsharing than for the free-floating service.
  • More spontaneous mobility: 62% of the station-based carsharing members responded that they had planned their last carsharing ride at least one day ahead, whereas 72% of free-floating members planned their carsharing trip less than one hour in advance.

We hope this summary has given you good insight into free-floating and station-based carsharing schemes. Interested in receiving the full report? Contact us to request the PDF download.

Follow Henrik Becker here.


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