The Carsharing Trend: Past, Present, and Future Overview of Shared Mobility

carsharing trend

The carsharing trend is much more than a fad, and as we know it today, it’s become a very viable form of shared transportation in many countries globally. As we move forward with more and more shared means of transportation, we hone in on carsharing specifically to understand where we are headed: let’s take a look at the carsharing trend with past, present, and future overviews.

Overview: The Carsharing Trend

Our carsharing past

carsharing history - zurich 1948

Carsharing initially began much sooner than you might think, when a housing cooperative in Zurich, Switzerland thought it would be a useful arrangement for its tenants and launched in 1948. During the 1970’s and 1980’s, larger-scale carshare projects launched in France and Amsterdam but only lasted a few years.

Carsharing reemerged in the 90’s when small carshare programs in Switzerland and Germany saw small and slow growth. StattAuto paved the way in Germany with its successful business model, and is credited for opening up the path for carshare programs in the United States by showing early success and growth.

The first official carshare operator in the United States was Carshare Portland, which began in 1998 and was launched by carshare expert Dave Brook. Carshare Portland started with just one vehicle and a few neighbours who shared its use, and the program eventually grew to roughly 20 vehicles.

Then, in 2000, two Boston women Robin Chase and Antje Danielson started Zipcar, Flexcar was launched in Seattle and purchased Carshare Portland, and by 2007 Flexcar and Zipcar underwent a merger. The rest is history!

Carsharing Present-day

modo carsharing 2018

According to TSRC’s recent report entitled Innovative Mobility: Carsharing Outlook, carsharing was operating in 46 countries and six continents as of October 2016 with over 2,000 cities, approximately 15 million members, and 157,000 vehicles. 

At this time Asia was the leading carsharing region with 58% of the worldwide membership and 43% of global fleets. The second largest was Europe with 29% of worldwide members and 37% of vehicle fleets. One-way carsharing accounted for 30.98% of global membership and 26.0% of global fleets deployed.

The 2016 global one-way market share represents a 76% increase in membership and a 23% increase in fleets since 2014. Roundtrip carsharing accounted for 69% and 73.9% of global membership and fleets deployed, respectively.

Regionally, Europe had the largest percentage of one-way membership, representing 66.1% of the region’s carsharing membership. Oceania had the greatest percentage of one-way fleets regionally, representing 79.4% of the continent’s carsharing fleets.

The number of carsharing countries increased from 35 in 2014 to 46 as of October 2016. Carsharing expanded to Africa, with a 2015 pilot in Morocco and a carshare launch in South Africa in June 2015.

Types of Carsharing categories

Currently there are a few categories/styles of carsharing operations that serve slightly different markets. These include:

  • Station-based carsharing: Station-based carshare programs serve as a two-way carshare option where pickup and drop-off occur at the same station. These schemes, such as Zipcar and Maven, serve a market for longer or day-trips, particularly where carrying supplies is a factor (such as shopping, moving, etc.). These types of carshare trips are typically calculated on a per hour or per day basis.
  • Free floating carsharing: Free-floating car share programs plugin more seamlessly with the cities infrastructure and have many drop-off/pick-up points of special permits that allow for easy street parking. This allows for A-B commuters to use the carshare program, picking the vehicle up at one location and dropping it off at another near their destination. These carsharing operations, including car2go, ReachNow, and Gig, are typically calculated on a per minute basis.
  • Peer-to-peer carsharing: Peer-to-peer carsharing, or simply P2P carsharing, allows car owners to rent out their vehicles to members in their vicinity on a per-day or per-hour basis, opening up an opportunity for car owners to offset vehicle costs and make additional revenue. An example of P2P carsharing scheme is Turo.

Carsharing capitals of the world

As of our research for our Shared Mobility City Index 2017, the top 5 leading capitals for carsharing are all in the US, with a close 6th being our home city in Canada.

  1. New York City: Owning a personal vehicle in New York City is a major traffic and parking pain, which is one of the reasons carsharing is so popular in this metropolis, making it the leading city for carshare operators and members. New York City current carshare operators include Zipcar, Maven, Enterprise CarShare, and car2go. Previously ReachNow was available in New York but service has since been cancelled.
  2. Washington, DC: Carshare operators in Washington, DC are widespread, including free floating, station-based, and P2P schemes. Operators include Zipcar, car2go, Hertz on Demand, Enterprise Carshare, Maven, and Getaround.
  3. Seattle: Seattle is a unique city with an infrastructure that has its highway running through the centre of the city, causing it to be the ninth worst in the US. Carshare services in Seattle include Zipcar, ReachNow, Turo, and car2go, and are helping to lessen congestion issues.
  4. Chicago: Chicago also see similar carshare services including Zipcar, Maven, Getaround, and car2go recently announced its expansion into Chicago with a 400 vehicle fleet.
  5. San Francisco: Also amongst the top ten worst US cities for traffic congestion, Seattle’s hilly streets have many carshare opportunities to help reduce traffic issues, including Getaround, Maven, Zipcar, Uber Rent, and Enterprise CarShare.
  6. Vancouver: Our hometown also happens to be the carsharing capital of Canada. Actually, Vancouver has more carshare vehicles per capita than any other North American city! Vancouver currently has four carsharing providers: Modo since 1997, Zipcar since 2007, car2go since 2011, and Evo since 2015.

corporate carsharing trend

As we recently wrote about in this blog post, corporate carsharing is a niche of the carshare industry that still has room for much improvement. This form of shared mobility allows the employees of a corporation to use a shared company fleet for business-use and sometimes personal needs. As you can imagine, corporations implementing a carshare program offers both economical and environmental advantages.

The problem? As of right now, some studies particularly in North America and Belgium, tell us that corporate carsharing has been slow to start and even rejected in certain cases.

For example, DriveNow has amassed a large debt in Belgium, while profiting in other countries, due to one possible explanation: company car expenses are taxed less than additional salary in Belgium, and have been used by corporations as a popular reward scheme. If many employees have company cars, where is the need to use carshare programs?

The Future of Carsharing

carsharing trend future

The carsharing trend is only bound to get more interesting and intertwined with our day-to-day lives in the coming years, and we expect to see it integrate with other trends in the mobility sector such as fully electric and autonomous vehicles. In fact, a study by ABI Research forecasts that 400 million people will rely on robotic carsharing services by 2030.

While research by KPMG indicates that 32% of all consumers still prefer owning a vehicle over using carsharing services, more than half of millennials say they’re open to carsharing, according to Penn Schoen Berland research firm. Research firm Gartner Inc. predicts that 20% of the vehicles in urban centers will be dedicated to shared use by 2025.

Carsharing services may also become more niche and focused towards a particular demographic. For example, high-use commuters versus leisurely, luxury automobile users.

Technology to Advance Carsharing

As technologies advance, they will empower the carsharing industry, making the member experience easier, more convenient, and providing a stronger sense of trust.

  • Blockchain technology: Blockchain technology has many applications in the transportation sector, and carsharing is not excluded from that. In the future, blockchain can be used to advance carsharing by determining driving patterns per member and basing insurance or per-minute carsharing prices on driving behaviour. In addition, it can be used to manage peer-to-peer carsharing schemes, ensuring that nobody needs to take a leap of faith, and can instead just depend on the quality of the technology verifying trust. In fact, Porsche has already implemented Blockchain technology to make carsharing easier.
  • EV carsharing: With Tesla’s batteries leading the way, it’s only a matter of time before carshare programs turn to electric vehicles completely. In fact, Volkswagen is currently making plans for a fully battery-powered carshare launch.
  • Parking navigation: As parking navigation companies become stronger empowered with better technologies, we can expect carshare operators to implement these technologies on a standard basis, allowing members to easily find parking for their free-floating or station-based carshare vehicle easily every time.

Corporate Carsharing Future

Luckily, there may be a very relevant future for corporate carsharing. According to Frost and Sullivan, corporate carsharing fleets are set to rise from approximately 2,000 vehicles in 2013 to anywhere between 75,000 and 100,000 vehicles by 2020.

The three models for corporate carsharing in the future, as asserted by Mark Boada of Fleet Management Weekly, include:

  • Commerical Carsharing: The easiest and most common arrangement of corporate fleets is to a reimbursement-model to employees for using a vehicle from a commercial carsharing service. The savings can be significant compared to leasing or buying vehicles for employees.
  • In-Fleet Carsharing: In some instances, employees will always need to drive a personal car depending on their position. If companies make the best use of carsharing within their fleet, they can downsize by up to 25% and save up to a million dollars a year.
  • Sharing Beyond Fleet Business: This model opens up a new revenue stream for the organization by having employees pay to use the fleet services beyond company hours. Drivy, a French-based carsharing service, enables business fleets to share their vehicles with the general public.

Are you looking for more information of carsharing reports within a specific region or city? Get in touch with us here to inquire about our SMCI reports.

Note: This article has not been endorsed or sponsored by any of the providers mentioned and there is no affiliation between movmi and them.

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