Car Sharing Opportunities Abound & Growing

car sharing imageMovability staff recently met Ed Ireson, Director of People Operations for Mutual Mobile, to talk about helping the company and their almost 300 employees access more options for commuting to and from downtown Austin. Ed told us that he often uses car2go to get from home to work and back again. And he isn’t alone; people are finding all sorts of ways to use car sharing and, as this recent NPR story confirms, a lot of different companies are getting into this market.

We have always thought of car sharing as a great safety net for when you bicycle or bus or carpool downtown – you still have access to a car if you need it. But thousands of people are finding many other reasons to share cars, and companies are responding.

NPR reports: Susan Shaheen, an expert in sustainable transportation at the University of California, Berkeley says, Zipcar was the first company to gain attention for renting out cars on a short-term basis. More recently, a company called DriveNow, like car2go, offers one-way options. (Zipcar requires that you return the vehicle to its reserved parking spot when you’re done driving it.)

And, says Shaheen, “now we see things like peer-to-peer car sharing where you can actually put your own personal vehicle into a car sharing system.” Shaheen counts 12 personal car sharing companies in North America as of last month.

There’s no question that economics are driving the car sharing market, but environmental concerns and the adaptation of smartphone technology are factors, too. So are cultural changes, says Jeffrey Tumlin of the transportation planning firm Nelson Nygaard.

“People of my generation believed that our private automobile said a lot about who we are, that [it] defined our power and our status. The younger generations don’t seem to be buying into that anymore, and they are seeing automobiles as simply a tool,” Tumlin says.

It’s hardly surprising then that automakers see car sharing as a potential new market. Daimler owns Car2Go. BMW’s offering is DriveNow. Volkswagen and Ford are exploring this market, too.”

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