Carsharing Emerges as Best Transportation Solution

By Special Guest
Cher Zevala, Special Correspondent
June 13, 2017

Right now, the world is packed with an estimated 1.2 billion cars — which is one car for every six people. All that driving produces roughly a third of the world’s air pollution, changing global climates, destroying natural environments, and even harming human health. While in the past, pushes have been made for people to rely on greener transportation options, including public transit, bicycles, and feet, it is becoming ever more obvious that the solution to cars is going to be: Cars.

Just as one hamburger doesn’t cause heart failure, a single car doesn’t kill the Earth. That’s the concept behind the new movement toward carsharing, which consumers and car manufacturers alike are accepting with gusto.

How and Why Carsharing Works
A car spends the majority of its existence parked — but it doesn’t have to. That’s the concept behind carsharing: putting parked cars to work. Instead of owning a vehicle, carshare users can reserve cars on days or times when they desperately need vehicles, such as long-distance travel or grocery shopping trips. Other times, they can use public transit (or human-powered modes of transport) to get where they need to go. When one carshare user has no intention to use a vehicle, another carshare user can pick it up for his or her own purposes.

Carsharing service providers own a fleet of vehicles stationed strategically around a city or cities, so a user won’t ever travel far to reach the vehicle. Unlike traditional car rental, carshare providers charge for usage — meaning per mile traveled or hour reserved; additionally, users pay a low monthly fee, which might cover insurance, gas, and other upkeep-related expenses. However, this model is more affordable than traditional car rental and car ownership.

Ultimately, carsharing programs are beneficial to cities, the environment, and humankind. Because the majority of carshare users are traveling via alternative forms of transportation, roadways tend to be less congested — meaning fewer harmful emissions and less smog. Carshare fleets are more updatable than personally owned vehicles since car manufacturers (and independent carshare companies) have more resources to devote to adopting brand-new makes and models. Thus, more vehicles will have the best technology available for fuel efficiency, and many will be able to provide hydrogen cars and electric vehicles sooner than much of the public would be able to afford it.

Finally, carsharing is incredibly good for individuals and populations of people. The service adds to the sharing economy, which helps bring people together into a community. Knowing that they are using shared property, carshare users tend to be more respectful of their vehicles and the road, generating greater empathy and care in the world. What’s more, the increased reliance on walking, cycling, and other forms of human-powered travel could help people gain greater health with minimal effort. Ultimately, carsharing presents as an ideal transportation solution for the future.

Carsharing Programs Already Finding Success
Research is already backing up carshare provider’s assertions about the benefits of their programs. One study found that although a carsharing program increases each car’s use 10-fold, it reduces the number of miles each vehicle moves by 37 percent — and more during peak traffic hours. Further, the use of carshares lower emissions by one-third, and 95 percent less parking space is necessary in cities with carsharing programs.

Thanks to these outstanding study results, and more, dozens of car manufacturers around the world have begun partnerships with carsharing enterprises. For example, BMW and Ridecell offer ReachNow, a carsharing program available in Seattle, Portland, and Brooklyn; Daimler launched CROOVE in Munich last December; and Audi is testing its own Audi Shared Fleet in cities around the world.

Perhaps the pioneer of modern carsharing models, ZipCar continues to grow globally, adding new cities and countries every day. Traditional rental companies, like Enterprise and Hertz, are beginning to integrate shorter-term rental options that mimic carsharing programs. However, also emerging are peer-to-peer carsharing options, which allow users to share their personal vehicles — not unlike most ridesharing applications.

Enhanced technology, environmental concern, and changing consumer tastes are affecting the transportation industry in a major way. Rather than get left behind, car manufacturers are jumping aboard carsharing opportunities. The truth is that cars will likely never disappear entirely; they are too comfortable and convenient for commuters to reject for good. However, how we use cars seems to be shifting — for the better.


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