The emergence of car sharing services began with the founding of Zipcar in 1999. Since then, car sharing has taken off across the world due to its flexibility when compared with traditional car rental and carpooling services. Some well-known car sharing operations include Autolib, a French-based venture that has been expanding aggressively, and the popular micro-transportation program in Hangzhou, China. By 2016, the global car sharing market is expected to exceed 15 million members with over 260,000 vehicles in service, according to Topology Research Institute (TRI), a division of TrendForce. A car share vehicle can replace up to 9~13 private vehicles, and with this as a basis, TrendForce further estimates that car sharing will be able to replace 2.34~3.38 million private vehicles worldwide by 2016. These preliminary projections indicate steady demand growth for this transportation solution in the near future.
“The car sharing market witnessed amazing growth in membership and vehicles in 2014, with Europe and Asia as the main growth drivers,” said Eric Chang automotive electronics analyst at TrendForce. Europe accounts for about half of the global market since car sharing originated there. More importantly, the development of European car sharing programs incorporate xEVs (plug-in vehicles), and this fits into the environmental directives of numerous countries in the region. As for Asia’s car sharing market, the growth momentum primary comes from China because the country’s public transportation networks have yet to reach the outer edges of cities and towns. Furthermore, local governments have made the application of vehicle license plates costly and difficult in recent years, turning car sharing into the best alternative to buying cars for Chinese citizens.
“Car sharing offers many benefits to users,” said Chang. “It is more convenient than commuting via public transports and has greater time flexibility versus traditional car rental services. Moreover, users do not have to worry about taxes and maintenance costs, and they can return vehicles at different locations. On the whole, car sharing has significant cost-performance advantage over other transportation methods, including carpooling.”