Difference between revisions of "Carsharing"

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Revision as of 08:50, 1 February 2010

Refers to the joint ownership of a car, not to sharing a ride such as in Carpooling


Definition

"Carsharing is a system in which a fleet of cars is jointly-owned by the users.

This is different from Car pooling in which cars are owned privately and simply drivers allows passengers to use the empty car sits on their car. The key difference between Carsharing and Carpooling: carpooling exploits the cars already owned by people, carsharing exploits cars bought precisely for and by the carsharing group." (http://wiki.couchsurfing.com/en/CarSharing)


Discussion

The weakness of current carsharing models

By Erica Barnett at http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/007087.html :

"My only real complaint about carsharing is that it has one major, built-in, self-limiting inefficiency: because cars must be returned to the spot where you pick them up, you can't take one-way trips. That means that even if what I really want to do is drive from my house to the store and to a friend's party, from which I'll get a ride or return by bus, I'm forced to drive to the party and drive home. (This also automatically makes me the designated driver.)

What's the solution to this conundrum? Actually, it's intuitive: supply, supply, supply. The more cars there are, the easier they are to access and use. So it stands to reason that when the ratio of cars to drivers reaches a certain saturation point, it will become possible to take a car from one carsharing spot and return it to another. Perhaps this will mean moving, at least initially, toward a model in which individual spots around a city are centralized into a smaller number of carsharing stations of half a dozen or more cars each. (In Seattle, these are called "pods.") Drivers could take whatever car is available, with specific cars such as trucks or convertibles available on a more limited basis for a premium.

Neither of the two largest carsharing companies in the U.S., FlexCar and ZipCar, currently offer one-way trips. However, my prediction is that as the popularity of carsharing increases and the companies' fleets grow larger, one-way trips are inevitable. And it's likely that this will only make carsharing more appealing: since 2000, Berlin's GreenWheels has allowed one-way driving, resulting in a 23 percent increase in trips.

Cities could take proactive steps to make one-way come sooner. Most carsharing programs are public-private partnerships already. A simple carbon tax on vehicle emissions -- charged either per ton of emissions produced, or as a flat motor-vehicle tax when drivers renews their registration -- could feed into a grant program for carsharing expansion, which would in time fund the purchase of enough cars to make one-way driving viable. New cars and one-way possibilities would, in turn, increase the visibility and popularity of carsharing, helping to make it a viable alternative for those who currently consider it an impractical luxury."


Car-sharing with a Small Group

Sarah Kuck:

"Some solutions are designed for ready-made networks of people. In their report Collaborative Services: Social Innovation and Design for Sustainability, François Jégou and Ezio Manzini discuss how residents of multi-unit buildings could create a group car-share account to ensure that they have access to specific vehicles nearby or in their building's lot:


- Using existing car-sharing businesses to set up a group car-share account for a building — residents are not obligated to join but having such an account will ensure that there are several available vehicles in a building’s lot or very close to it. The company can adjust how many vehicles it makes available to the building based on demand, and when the cars are not being used by residents, they are available to other members, thereby helping to keep the whole endeavor profitable. “It’s like classic car-sharing, but with one or several parking spaces near your building. We benefit from professionally managed vehicles: reservations via mobile telephone, maintenance, registration and replacement of vehicles — all without having to organize it." (http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/009760.html)

Example: Zimride

Examples

  1. Zipcar ;
  2. Streetcar
  3. CityCarShare
  4. I Go
  5. My City Wheels


Zipcar

"For drivers who already share movies via Netflix and stream music rather than buying CDs, the idea of sharing a car is the natural extension of a hip, financially smart, and environmentally conscious urban lifestyle.

After all, drivers who give up their cars and switch to Zipcar say they save an average of $600 per month. Car sharers report reducing their vehicle miles traveled by 44%, according to Susan Shaheen of the University of California at Berkeley, and surveys in Europe show CO2 emissions are being cut by up to 50% per user.

"When I meet another Zipcar member at a party or something, I feel like we have something in common," says Francis Smith, a photographer who lives in Brooklyn. "It's like we're both making intelligent choices about our lives."

Businesses are catching on too. About 8,500 companies have signed up for the service, including Lockheed Martin (LMT, Fortune 500), Gap (GPS, Fortune 500), and Nike (NKE, Fortune 500). So have 120 colleges and universities, such as Carnegie Mellon and the University of Miami.

Zipcar is also marketing its technology -- the hardware and software that keep track of the cars -- to city governments. Washington, D.C., retrofitted its fleet this year using Zipcar's wireless systems and estimates that the move will save it $1 million a year. "It's just such a no-brainer," says Ralph Burns, who manages the D.C. government fleet. "Agencies putting their budgets together for next year are calling me up and saying, 'Ralph, I've got 25 cars I want to get rid of!'"

Though car sharing is an audacious challenge to the whole principle of car ownership -- each shared vehicle takes up to 20 cars off the road as members sell their rides or decide not to buy new ones, says Shaheen -- the auto industry is increasingly realizing it has little choice but to play ball.

Toyota (TM) and Ford (F, Fortune 500) have already begun exploring ways to work with Zipcar, from using its members to test electric cars to designing vehicles specifically for the sharing market." (http://money.cnn.com/2009/08/26/news/companies/zipcar_car_rentals.fortune/)

More Information

Word Cities Carshare Inventory at http://ecoplan.org/carshare/general/cities.htm