Car sharing: collaborative use of immobilized cars

Today, I would like to start this blogging year with a focus on car sharing, a new way to use cars that is born from applying a collaborative thinking on a good that was until now a typically private good.

How do I come to think about this ? I have noticed this winter how fast the number of Autolib’ stations and cars have grown in Paris.

Autolib’ (“auto” for “automobile” which means “car” and “lib'” for “liberty”) is a new car renting network, dedicated to local transportation, working just like the public bicycles that have been introduced in all big cities in France as an alternative transportation means to buses, trams, and undergrounds. Autolib’ is using exclusively small electric vehicles, which corresponds well to Parisians: small cars because trafic is intense and electric cars because it is trendy to think green. Autolib’ has stations in about every avenue in Paris, or in the small streets nearby.

First, you have to register with your driving licence and choose a subscription type (one-shot, 1-day, 1-week, 1-month, or 1-year). The minute’s price is of course degressive with the length of the suscription. Once registered, you just have to select your car in the station, unlock it with your badge, unplug it, and drive. When at your destination, you park your car in the next Autolib’ station, replug your car, and lock it back with your badge. Autolib’s website enables you to book a car, book a parking space, and find the next Autolib’ station if there is no car in the one down the street.

There are lots of other business models:

  • where the cars are not particularly green,
  • where you really share cars by renting your neighbour’s one instead of letting it parked in front of their house,
  • where you have the choice between different car models,
  • where you must or not give back the car in the same place where you took it,
  • etc.

All in all, car sharing business models seem to share the following common points:

  • the car is to be used for short, local runs,
  • the renting duration is very short, usually measured in minutes rather than days like in traditional car renting.

In all cases, the idea has come from the following observation: private cars are usually parked about 95% of the time. Why not tap this potential?

Here are a few examples of businesses running on the car sharing concept in France, the USA, and Canada: Autolib’, Auto’trement, Mobizen, AutoPartage Provence, GetAroundCity Car Share, CarSharing Canada, AutoShare, and many others…

So, enough about theory: if those websites exist, people are using them. So what about you ? Have you ever used any of those systems ? What did you think ? Don’t hesitate to leave a comment to answer.

And all the best for the new year !

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One Response to Car sharing: collaborative use of immobilized cars

  1. Pingback: TIR’s pillars 5/5: Transitioning to electric, plug-in vehicles | Energy in transition

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