The sharing economy is booming and reaching up to pretty much all industry sectors and players, with the shared mobility taking up its share.
And while shared mobility encompasses the sharing of all means of transport rather than owning them privately (for example, instead of going through the hassle of transporting your own bicycle or scooter when you go for a far or near sightseeing tour, you could directly pick up one from the streets of your desired location, enjoy your tour, leave back the vehicle at a convenient spot, pay with a single click, and move on) today, we are going to particularly look at carsharing.
Although the concept of carsharing, as a model where users access cars on-demand and pay by time of reservation or distance driven, might appear as a relatively new concept, in fact, its history goes back to 1948.
70 years ago, carsharing pioneered in Switzerland with the founding of the Selbstfahrergemeinschaft (German for ‘Self Drive Community’), or Sefage, cooperative and its idea to offer users – who can not afford to purchase a car – to share one.
In the same year, the US Government in an attempt to save gasoline for war needs, asked drivers to: “Eliminate all unnecessary driving and to form car-sharing pools with neighbours working in the same general area”, and that government call became the first officially recorded use of our term.
The implementation of car-sharing services in other European towns followed the Swiss model, along with the first bikesharing program that began in 1965 in Amsterdam, but it was only in the 90s – resulting from the rising prices of fuels and congested road networks – that car share systems started seeing growth and generate some profit.
The success of the German early-adopter, StattAuto, (from one old private car in 1988 to a public limited company with nearly 1400 shareholders and an official partner of the Deutsche Bahn) led the way to the first carsharing business models in the United States, where the carsharing concept was mainly executed as a commute car-pool arrangement between neighbourhood and colleagues.
The inflexibility of the 90s car-sharing programs, along with the social status defining importance of car-ownership led to the slow growth of the carsharing business.
The recent technological boom became the real game changer, with modern information technology allowing carsharing schemes to become user-friendly and shared economy promoting the social trend of sharing over ownership.
Today, carsharing is a real economic and social phenomenon, with the car sharing market projected to record a nearly 20 million users and a revenue of more than EUR 15 billion in the next 5 years (with the free floating model to attract 90% of the users, thanks to the ability to get in and out of cars instantly without the need to place a prior booking or schedule a return time, compared to the station-based model), and the consumer preferences shifting from the traditional car ownership to the new mobility services of carsharing and e-hailing expected to result in the decline of car production with more than a half million cars by 2021.