Carsharing: A Sustainable and Innovative Personal Transport Solution with Great Potential and Huge Opportunities

Published: 28 Jan 2010

By David Zhao, Research Analyst, Frost & Sullivan Automotive Practice

The economic recession that started in December 2007 in the United States had a huge impact on the global automotive industry. Consumers were forced to be cognizant of fuel efficiency and transit costs. While vehicle manufacturers focus on the development of fuel-efficient vehicles, such as hybrids and EVs, alternative mobility services are receiving attention. Among these services is carsharing, a sustainable and innovative personal mobility solution that is a rising star. The carsharing industry grew significantly in the past two years, showed great potential, and implied huge business opportunities for the stakeholders.

Carsharing is a mode of transport where vehicles are owned by a separate firm or an organization, and shared amongst a number of people throughout the day. Carsharing can also be considered an organized short-term car rental where users access a firm's vehicles maintained in a close network of vehicle locations called "Pods." Starting in Europe, carsharing came to North America in 1994 as an alternative solution to meet the mobility gaps between public transit, taxi, bike, car rental, and private vehicle travel. Carsharing provides its members with the benefits of private cars without the costs and responsibilities of ownership.

The two major social benefits of carsharing are fewer vehicles on the road and lower emissions. Research from Frost & Sullivan estimates that, on average, each shared vehicle replaced 15 personally owned vehicles in 2009, and carsharing members drove 31 percent less than when they owned a personal vehicle. These two factors translate into 482,170 fewer tons of CO2 emissions and less travel congestion in urban areas.

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