Global carsharing to soar to 190 million users by 2025
Kicking off around 2010, carsharing is the oldest, most mature form of shared mobility. However, as related in a recent report by Berg Insight, it’s still growing and changing fast. Here’s an overview of the current business models, regional differences and industry trends.
Basically, there are three business models for carsharing, each with its own pluses and minuses.
- Cars picked up and left at varying places within a designated area.
- Fleets are large to ensure sufficient density within the business area.
- Plus: most flexible formula, as it allows one-way trips, pricing is pay-as-you-go, and no pre-booking is required.
- Minus: balancing supply and demand is challenging and costly. Hence payment is often per minute (hourly and daily rates are also common).
- The number of users for free-floating carsharing users could increase to 43 million by 2025, from 17 million in 2020.
- Global free-floating fleets could increase to more than 210,000 vehicles in 2025, up from around 100,000 in 2020.
- Cars picked up and dropped off at fixed stations.
- Plus: easier and cheaper to manage, maintain and charge the fleet.
- Minus: less flexible, as pre-booking is required; and costlier in terms of real estate, especially in city centres.
- The number of registered users for station-based carsharing could nearly triple to 147 million by 2025, from 55 million in 2020.
- Station-based fleets around the world could reach almost 760,000, up from 366,000 in 2020.
- Basically, a variant of the station-based principle. Except that cars are picked up and returned to private users (or micro-entrepreneurs).
- Plus: very diverse fleet, using existing resources (no extra vehicles on the road).
- Minus: less predictability in terms of quality and availability.
Carsharing is big in three regions, each with its own outlook.
- Nearly all (99%) carsharing vehicles are operated in the station-based model. This is because regulations typically favour models that reduce the risk of damage and vandalism.
- Free-floating services are available in limited form in China, Australia and New Zealand.
- Mainly station-based (70%), with a substantial minority free-floating (30%). Some operators have tried to scale free-floating models, so far without success.
- Relatively high demand for peer-to-peer carsharing, in line with the region’s mobility patterns and infrastructure.
- Free-floating represents around 40% of the market, mainly in major cities. Station-based schemes are also available in smaller cities. The difference is due to the density requirement for free-floating carsharing. Curiously, in the UK, station-based schemes predominate over free-floating ones.
- Large, OEM-funded operators (ShareNow, Free2Move, Zity) dominate in Western Europe, while smaller, independent ones play a major role in Eastern Europe.
- In Germany, free-floating services offer 14,000 cars in up to 15 cities and have 2.1 million members, while station-based services are present in 830 cities and towns, with 12,000 vehicles and around 725,000 members.
- Remarkably, Russia is one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing carsharing markets. The two main providers alone offer more than 37,000 vehicles in the country’s major cities.
Carsharing is changing along four main trends: multimodality, pricing, electrification and SPVs.
Increasingly, carsharing providers are experimenting with multimodal offers.
- Among the first were Poppy and Aimo, adding mopeds and scooters in cities like Brussels and Stockholm.
- Spurred by the pandemic’s demand for mobility options with low infection risk, GoTo announced a multimodal setup in Spain.
- GO Sharing is going the other direction, going from a moped-only fleet to including bicycles and cars.
Competition is increasing. User behaviours are changing. As a result, carsharing providers are altering their pricing structures, offering more flexibility.
- Fixed-time packages, the usual system, pressure users to return vehicles at a certain moment. Instead, so-called ‘cost parachutes’ put a cap on cost per day, week or month.
- Another option is a fixed monthly cost – a subscription, in other words. In return, users get hassle-free use, and in some cases, other benefits as well.
The progress of electrification is remarkable, especially in free-floating carsharing. This is the result of three mutually reinforcing trends: customer demand, public policy and the providers’ CSR.
- About 40% of the providers of free-floating carsharing in Europe already have a 100% electric fleet (e.g. GreenMobility, WeShare, LeasysGO!, Free2Move). Many others have mixed fleets (Emov, Sixt share, ShareNow).
- In China too, most carsharing is electrified, in order to comply with local zero-emission policies.
- Popular EVs for carsharing are the Renault Zoe, BMW i3 and VW e-Golf. Likely additions will be the VW ID.3, Peugeot e-208 and Fiat 500e.
Special purpose vehicles
Rather than continuing to use standard cars, the industry is starting to turn to special purpose vehicles (SPVs), specifically designed for carsharing – either by being more durable, having a smaller footprint, or both.
- Examples include Getaround’s light EVs in Rotterdam and Enuu’s small pod vehicles in Berlin. More are following soon.
- Free2Move is using the Citroen AMI both in Europe and North America. As of now, it is the only OEM-backed platform to use an SPV. In future, SPVs could both reduce vehicle-to-market cost and optimise the user experience in carsharing.