This month on our shared mobility by region series, we take a look at the current offerings available in the German shared mobility market with the help and expertise from Augustin Friedel of Volkswagen Passenger Cars.
Germany has a history of being a progressive leader in the transportation industry, with over 20 percent of total German revenue being generated by the automotive industry. Over the years, Germany has successfully adopted to changes within the industry, including the emergence of sustainable and innovative mobility solutions. These include electric, autonomous and connected vehicles as well as the evolution of shared mobility across the globe.
Keep reading as we take a look at the current German shared mobility market including the boom in carshare providers, ride hailing services operational within the region, micromobility operators, including bike share programs and the rise of electric shared kick scooters and how the country has adopted electric and autonomous vehicles.
To read more articles in our Shared Mobility By Region series, click here.
Shared Mobility by Region: GERMANY
GERMAN CarShare MARKET
CLASSIC CARSHARING: Classic carsharing services require the vehicle to be picked up and returned to designated stations within the users areas. The car is always booked in advanced with the booking period set. Advantages for this method are low costs per hour with an additional mileage allowance to be paid as well. Most German car share operators provide this type of model.
FLEXIBLE CARSHARING: Also known and referred to as “Free floating carsharing” bases its model within a particular region/district. Within this area, the vehicle can be picked up and returned at any location. In order to find nearby vehicles, the users simply log on to the smart device and using GPS, can find the nearest one available. Short term reservations can be made. The advantage of this model is the high flexibility; the downside is the high costs for longer journeys.
Within the last few years the adoption of carsharing within german towns and cities has been huge. In medium-sized and small towns, there is often only one provider but In large cities there are now a variety of small and large providers that offer different variations. In total, there are now more than 150 carsharing providers in Germany. Here is a list of the top carshare providers in the region:
top german CARSHARE PROVIDERS
There are over 300,000 subscribed Flinkster carsharing customers. Flinkster has more than 4000 vehicles available for its users in over 1700 locations across 300 towns and cities within Germany. Vehicles are available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Flinkster also offers its services in Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Italy with a further 2,000 vehicles in use.
In June 2012, stadtmobil Hannover became the first carsharing organization in Germany to offer “free-floating” carsharing in addition to its station-based services. There are 80 vehicles available that can be parked throughout the city of Hanover, which also allows one-way trips and maximum flexibility. The ‘Stadtflitzer’ rides are billed to the minute and before departure, no end time must be determined.
More than 7,000 people use over 300 vehicles, which are offered in 7 cities. In addition to the number private users of the service, the Stadtmobil users also include a number of companies, associations and municipalities.
SHARENOW will be the world’s largest carsharing provider now that both car2go and DriveNow have joined forces with the company. Currently car2go and DriveNow are operational in Berlin, Cologne, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich and Stuttgart. The vehicles they offer include smart cars, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Minis with over 20,000 car worldwide. They also have an electric fleet of 3,200 electric cars and their services are available in 30 cities, across 13 countries on 2 continents.
Carsharing with cambio follows a simple principle: stations can be found at different locations around the city. This is where your trip begins and ends. Currently, the cambio group in Germany and Belgium has over 63,000 customers and provides more than 1,700 vehicles at 600 stations. The group is one of the three largest carsharing companies in Germany and is located in cities such as Aachen, Berlin, Bielefeld, Bonn, Bremen, Bremerhaven, Cologne, Hamburg to name but a few. Cambio offers its services across 39 cities in Belgium, as well as Germany. Cambio also partners with the Stadtmobil group so that customers of both groups can “cross book” cars from each at most locations (in Germany), using the same smart card.
Dutch company Greenwheels, is a station-based car sharing service that has extensive locations in urban centres in Germany and Netherlands. It is operational is over 20 German cities and the company claims that if you drive less than 15,000 km per year, Greenwheels is cheaper than owning your own car.
The Volkswagen brand has launched an extensive all-electric car sharing service in Berlin under its “We Share” sub-brand. The first fleet of vehicles has been rolled out and consists of 1,500, emission free, e-golfs with the aim of an additional 500 later in the year. Jürgen Stackmann, Volkswagen Brand Board Member for Sales, said,
“Because of the size and density of its population, Berlin is the ideal market and has the greatest potential. Many people who have already tested car sharing live there – and the numbers keep on growing.”
MILES Mobility’s mission is to offer carsharing without any time pressure or stress, providing users with unmatched flexibility, and reducing the need for private car ownership. Vehicles are rented through an app, from one kilometer up to one month, and cars can be dropped off anywhere – no stations, no opening hours, and no return to starting point required. MILES offers its services in Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne and Munich.
SIXT is a car rental company offering premium vehicles for rent in Germany. In February, this year, SIXT added a new electric fleet of shared vehicles to its current rental service. The company is currently only operational in Germany (with nearly 500 branches) with plans to roll out into other European countries by the end of the year. They offer a wide range of vehicles from top manufacturers, including BMW, Mercedes-Benz and the Renault ZOE as part of their e-fleet. Sixt was originally part of a joint venture with BMW’s DriveNow, but went their separate ways in 2018 with Sixt agreeing to sell back its stake in car-sharing service for 209 million euros.
Ubeeqo is a carshare club operational in 7 major European cities including Berlin and Hamburg. Ubeeqo lets its users rent a car from one hour to several days all using its smartphone app. Fuel, insurance and 30 miles are all included per journey. Ubeeqo is a 100% digital service that makes the booking, paying and managing of carshare services easier for its users.
Peer-to-peer carsharing in Germany is also knows as ‘private care sharing.’ In addition to the “professional Carsharing” of the big providers, there is also an increasing number of individuals who make their car temporarily available to their neighbours. The advantage of this model is the low price and the wide variety of cars and also its availability within rural regions where professional carshare providers may not be readily available. Companies that offer peer-to-peer carshare service in Germany include, SnappCar, Turo – who has partnered with car giant Daimler, new-comer Getaway and market leader Drivy.
German shared mobility: ride hailing market
Hamburg has very recently just become the sixth German city to offer Uber to its residents. The company is currently available in Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt, Cologne and Düsseldorf and is usually cheaper than traditional taxi services.
The US firm said that last year, mobile phone users in Cologne tried to order a ride via the app 300,000 times. During the recent Carnival season, 100,000 people tried to use Uber which signalled that the service was in demand.
However, when ridehail company Uber tried to enter the European and German shared mobility market they faced a series of complex law and regulations that did not occur in the US market. These included:
- Taxi Deutschland: This national cooperative represents the interests of private taxi companies across the country. It did not take long to file law suits and conjunctions against Uber upon its arrival in 2014 and have won local and national court cases again the market giant.
- Licensing Requirements: In Germany the law PBefG (Personenbeförderungsgesetz) regulates the commercial transport of passengers such as taxis, vans, limousines and requires drivers to own a chaffeur’s license. Without a change in this law, Uber’s basic ridesharing concept of matching a passenger with a private, uncertified driver falls apart.
- Insurance: Although Uber required UberPop drivers to have liability insurance coverage on their private vehicles, German insurance law allows insurance companies to drop such coverage or not pay for damages if it turns out a driver lied about the amount of “personal/private” mileage versus “business/paid” mileage.
- German Competition: The biggest issue private ride hailing companies will face entering the German market are the long standing and successful taxi services available. Even before the arrival of Uber in Germany there were German firms offering non-traditional, licensed taxi service via an app. Mytaxi and Taxi.de are UberTaxi-like firms that allow you to order a taxi via an app, see the fare, the taxi number, the driver’s name and phone number, and pay without cash (still a rarity in Germany) – all without using a traditional telephone cab dispatch.
german shared mobility: Top ride hailing apps
mytaxi currently Daimler’s FREE NOW, is available in more than 40 German cities. With “10 million users and 100,000 taxis.” it is possibly the most popular German taxi app. Hamburg-based mytaxi’s one disadvantage is that it does not use regular taxi dispatch centers, resulting in less coverage than most other taxi apps. But in larger German cities this is not a problem, and the average wait time is 4.6 minutes. Some of its features include a fare preview, taxi arrival info, in-app electronic payment, driver ratings and taxi sharing.
CleverShuttle: If two people are going in the same direction, why not share a ride, lower the cost, and save on money and gas? This was the logic that the founders of CleverShuttle had in mind when they formed the company in Munich in 2014. Five years later, the on-demand ride-pooling startup has taken off and currently operates in Germany’s seven largest cities, with potential expansion plans in the works. CleverShuttle is also a sustainable solution to ridehailing, as users are picked up in either a battery or hydrogen electric car.
MOIA isVolkswagen’s mobility division and it launched public ride-sharing services with electric vans in Hamburg in April, 2019. Residents of Hamburg, Germany’s second biggest city, can use the Moia app to book a ride and in one of 100 vehicles. Over the next 12 months, Moia will increase the fleet to 500 vehicles.
ioki offers a service that can be booked around the clock via the “ioki Hamburg App” – 24 hours, 7 days a week. The ioki Hamburg Shuttle operates under a bus concession and is deeply integrated into existing public transport. The vehicles used have six seats, and even wheelchairs and pushchairs can be transported easily. In the service area, additional ioki breakpoints have been set up at intervals of not more than 200 meters for optimum area coverage. The customer logs in via the “ioki Hamburg App”, enters the start and finish location, gets notified when a vehicle is available for him and then drives from an address to a stop within the operating area – and vice versa.
BerlKönig is a ride-pooling service in Berlin provided by Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG) and ViaVan. It provides affordable, shared and environmentally friendly rides with the individual mobility of a car, yet is almost as cheap as a bus. The more people picked up who are going to an area near you will keep costs of the trip down for each user. BerlKönig operates within the eastern S-Bahn ring and in Gesundbrunnen, Michelangelo-Kiez and the Komponistenviertel. This also includes Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, Mitte and Prenzlauer Berg.
Taxi.de is available in all towns and cities of 60,000 population or more and features include a fare preview. Some drivers may offer credit card payment with a card reader.
Taxi.eu is available in more than 50 German cities with cashless in-app payment on offer in select cities. Available in other European cities.
The Munich Transport Company (MVG) is expanding its individual public transport network by introducing an on-demand public transportation service: the MVG IsarTiger. This service is designed to support current public transport options in Munich such as subways, trams, busses, MVG RAD and CarSharing. Similarly in Duisburg, myBus in an on-demand service that works in correlation with the local public transportation systems, not against.
GERMAN shared mobility: micromobility
BIKESHARE: german SHARED MOBILITY
The availability of bike sharing in Germany gets better every year, particularly with the government’s sustainability in mobility initiatives. Rent-a-bike stations are often located at the main railway stations, they are called “Fahrradmietstationen” from which a bicycle can be borrowed at any time of the day or night. The model works very similar to carsharing models in the region. Users must register online, usually pay an initial deposit and provide a method of payment for ongoing rentals.
The bikes are secured with an electric bike lock which means the user does not have to return the bike to dedicated stations, but the bikes can be deposited and found throughout the entire area of a city.
top station-based BIKESHARE OPERATORS in the region
A subsidiary of DB Rent GmbH, a company of the Deutsche Bahn group offers its station-based services in 50 German town and cities. The first 30 minutes of each rental period are free of charge. There after each minute is 8 cents. Lidl Bike is also a member of the Call a Bike family and offers its services at 350 stations in the Berlin S-Bahn ring.
nextbike is Europe’s bike share leader and the biggest bike share operator in Germany, offering its services in over 60 German cities (200 worldwide). nextbike have been developing sustainable bike sharing systems for over 14 years and began by implementing station-based bike share services. Presently, it offers a hybrid setup of station-based and dockless bike share schemes in the bigger cities, users simply pay more for the option not to bring it to a dock.
This bike share company has more than 150 stations available in Bochum, Bottrop, Dortmund, Duisburg, Essen, Gelsenkirchen, Hamm, Herne, Mülheim a.d.R. Billing period is 30 minutes each 1 EUR. There are long-term rates such as a full day ticket for 9 euro or yearly membership for 48 euro with the first 30 min free of charge.
dockless bike share providers
Germany also offers its residents “dockless” bike share services. Although not as established as their station-based counterparts, there are still 16,000 bikes available from no fewer than seven different providers populate Berlin’s sidewalks: the top dockless companies are Mobike – drop the bikes off anywhere in the S-Bahn ring and Donkey Republic (Denmark company) similar to Mobike, simply drop the bike off anywhere in the Berlin ‘drop-off’ zone. Jump Bike, from Uber is also available in Berlin and offers a fleet of electric assisted bikes that provide a boost of up to 25km/h. It is €1 ($1.17) to unlock the bike and €0.15 per minute to ride.
The dockless providers’ bikes are unlocked with a smartphone app and can be left anywhere for the next user. Although these schemes are popular, uptake within European cities where bike sharing is already high, is not a future guarantee.
GERMAN shared mobility: MOPED SHARING
Moped and two-wheeled methods of transport have always been a popular mode of transport across European cities. They are cheaper than owning a car, easier to navigate through old cities with even older roads and when it comes to parking, mopeds are much less demanding than a car. This is why there are few European companies that are currently offering a fleet of shared electric mopeds to its users, limiting the need for personal ownership.
One company offering this service is emmy, an electric moped scooter sharing company that has over 2000 moped scooters available in Berlin, across the city, within the S-Bahn-Ring, Hamburg, Dusseldorf and Munich. To ride an Emmy scooter it is €0.23/minute ($0.26), €0.13 ($0.15) to park and a €29 ($32) daily rate.
Frank-e is another fully electric scooter share company that is currently operational in Frankfurt. The scooters can reach speeds up to 50km/h and offer users an environmentally friendly and alternative way to move around the city. All you need to register is a valid drivers license and €9.95 ($11.15) one time registration fee, after that it is €0.22/minute ($0.25).
GERMAN shared mobility: KICK E-scooter sharing
In EU jargon, small electric vehicles such as scooters, cruisers and hoverboards are known as personal light electric vehicles (PLEV). These modes of transport are entering the German market and fast becoming popular methods of personal transport across the country. However, up until May 2019, these 2/3 wheeled vehicles were not legally allowed to be used on public streets or roads. This law changed three months ago when the Federal Ministry of Transport finalized the “Regulation for Devices with Handlebars and Handrails.” and was approved by the Bundesrat (Federal Council).
The law now enables battery-powered scooters to circulate on roads and cycle paths but forbids them from being used on the pavements. Users must be 14 or over and must respect a 20 kilometres per hours speed limit. E-scooters have been appearing on streets across Germany since the government gave them the go-ahead in May. Local broadcaster RBB revealed this week there are already 4,800 e-scooters in Berlin. You can now find these vehicles for rent on nearly every corner in the heart of Berlin. And this summer people are scootering through the streets and parks of the German capital, where 15 companies are competing for the market.
In June this year, the Berlin startup TIER Mobility, Europe’s leading company for shared micro-mobility services, launched its e-scooter sharing service in eight German cities. In addition to the company’s headquarters in Berlin, TIER e-scooters is also available in Bonn, Cologne, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich and Münster.
A few other kick e-scooter companies that are currently operational in the region are:
Circ, a Berlin based company is available in 21 cities across 7 countries, with its latest entry into Germany, following the change in legislation. Circ, formerly Flash, claimed to have 1 million rides in the first 4.5 months of business.
Lime scooters, which are available in Berlin, Cologne, Dresden, Frankfurt, Hamburg and Munich
VOI are also active across the region. Currently the company has scooters in over 30 European cities, including Berlin, Postdam, Nuremburg and Augsburg.
EV ADOPTION IN GERMANY
Electric cars are not only at the centre of sustainable mobility, internationally successful e-cars are also decisive for the future success of our car industry and therefore for hundreds of thousands of jobs in Germany.
Germany also has an ambitious plan to have all newly made German vehicles emissions-free by 2030. Europe’s biggest car market is working hard on developing a vast EV charging infrastructure across the country. Private automakers like Volkswagen, Mercedes and BMW also join their forces to build fast-charging networks along Germany’s highways. With a total budget of 40 million euro that they invested in EV technology development, these car manufacturing giants planned to develop approximately 100 charging points by the end of 2018 with 400 more EV charging stations will be installed by the year 2200.
is divided about the future of its most important industry: while some automakers pursue electric vehicles, a noisy group of diesel-energy enthusiasts are expressing their frustration through protests. This debate about the future of cars — diesel or electric — is emotional for many Germans, as the auto industry and its dependent companies employ 1.8 million people, hundreds of thousands of whom work directly with internal combustion engines. But new carbon emission limits and pending bans on diesel and gasoline cars in major markets threaten their livelihoods. These protests have gone on every weekend so far this year, since the first on January 11th of 2019.
The first protest took place in Stuttgart — the hometown of Daimler, Bosch, and Porsche — and was organized by Ioannis Sakkaros, who works as a mechatronics technician for Porsche. Since then, hundreds of protesters wearing yellow vests have gathered each weekend to rally against court-mandated driving bans for older diesel cars. The bans were put in place in response to excessive air pollution.
autonomous vehicles in GERMANY
Why is Germany leading the pack with regards to autonomous vehicle technology? Consumer acceptance is key. This year, 63% of Germans claimed they would use driverless cars if they had an established safety record, compared to 47% in 2017. Another reason is due to Germany’s traditional carmakers. When it comes to fully autonomous driving, a selection of established, well funded car manufacturers adopting this technology creates faster results than countries that have self-driving startups.
Last week we reached a milestone in getting AI-based self-driving systems to be truly autonomous. Daimler and Bosch have received approval from German regulators to run their automated driverless parking function without a human safety driver behind the wheel. This the world’s first fully automated driverless SAE Level 4 parking function to be officially approved for everyday use.
Bosch and Daimler started developing their fully automated driverless parking in 2015. That initial partnership included car2go, the car-sharing unit of Daimler. The companies launched their automated valet parking function in 2017 at the parking garage of the Mercedes-Benz Museum. The following year, and after intensive testing the service was allowed to be tested by users with a human safety driver was always behind the wheel – now, no driver is required. This is a huge step towards fully autonomous vehicles being made a reality and it is happening, right now, in Germany.
Other big players in both the electric and autonomous vehicle arena are Ford and the Volkswagen Group who announced in July that they would be stepping up their global partnership. The VW Group announced a $2.6 billion total investment in ArgoAI, a self-driving-vehicle startup in which Ford in 2017 invested $1 billion. The VW stake brings ArgoAI’s valuation to more than $7 billion.
The German automaker BMW is also committed to creating self-driving technology and has been running autonomous driving tests around the world, with a total of 16,000 kilometers completed in China alone, and aims to complete tests of 200 million km worldwide before putting technologies into series production. BMW is working together with development partners such Intel, Mobileye, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to leverage each other’s strengths and resources to enhance the platform’s technology and reduce the time taken to bring products to market.
Multimodal Transport Solutions
Multimodal transportation and a centralised method of finding, booking and paying for transport is an emerging market in Germany. Berlin’s public transit system, the Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG), is aiming to become “the Amazon of transportation.” BVG’s customers can use their new smartphone app to pay for fares on public transit routes, as well as booking rides with private operators such as nextbike bike shares, MILES car shares and emmy electric motorized scooters. Payment is unified but the app generates separate invoices for each service provider.
SIXT SE is another app-based model that is consistently rolling out its integrated mobility offerings. The company not only offers car rental, car sharing and ride hailing in one app, but is now offering short-term rental of e-scooters together with its cooperation from newest partner TIER Mobility. It will be interesting to see what the rest of 2019 has in store for this multimodal transportation trend in European cities such as Germany and the rest of the world.
Acknowledgements: We’d like to thank and credit Augustin Friedel of the Volkswagen Group, for his knowledge and insights on German mobility.
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