New Car Sharing Offers and Customer Groups: Implications for a Growing and Diversifying Market



New Car Sharing Offers and Customer Groups: Implications for a Growing and Diversifying Market

Authors

Sandra Wappelhorst, InnoZ, Andreas Graff, InnoZ, Josephine Steiner, InnoZ

Description

In recent years mobility services such as car sharing have become an important element of transportation systems worldwide to meet the objectives of economic competitiveness, social cohesion and balanced sustainable development. While the positive outcomes of car sharing such as the reduction in car ownership or vehicle-kilometres travelled have been evaluated intensively less attention has been paid to the characteristics and demands of car sharing users, facing an increasingly growing and diversified car sharing market.

To address this issue, this article investigates the behaviour and preferences of new consumer groups in the Berlin car sharing market based on several surveys within the project Berlin elektroMobil (short BeMobility) which focuses on the intelligent networking of electric shared vehicles and public transport, exemplified by the city of Berlin.

The results of the studies indicate that car sharing members tend to be male and middle-aged, living in a household with a comparable high income. In terms of travel behaviour they are multi-modal, using and combining different transport modes including car sharing. The study also identifies two customer groups: Non-multi-chooser who are a member of only one car sharing organisation (in this case a member of Flinkster) and multi-chooser who are members of at least two car sharing organisations, including Flinkster and at least one other provider. Also, there is a strong indication that for the user group with several car sharing memberships (multi-chooser) the customer loyalty and commitment towards a certain car sharing provider becomes less important.

Abstract

Transport volumes in cities and towns around the world continue to grow as a result of economic growth, population increase and urbanisation. Peak oil, global warming, local emissions, traffic jams or the lack of urban parking spaces are major challenges for the transport sector on a global, national and local level. In this respect, innovative and integrated mobility concepts are required in meeting the objectives of economic competitiveness, social cohesion and balanced sustainable development.

In recent years mobility services such as car sharing have become an important element of transportation systems worldwide to meet these goals. As the name suggests, car sharing allows the use of vehicles on demand. Station based offers with fixed parking spaces, return of vehicle to the station where it was rented and booking in advance have been on the market for many years. In recent years, free floating services have been added offering spontaneous booking and instant access, pay as you go, one-way and open-end-trips.

Research suggests the positive effects of car sharing in general such as the reduction in car ownership or vehicle-kilometres travelled, contributing for example to lower greenhouse gas emissions, less congestion, better air quality and more public spaces.

While the positive outcomes of car sharing have been evaluated intensively less attention has been paid to the characteristics and demands of car sharing users, facing an increasingly growing and diversified car sharing market including conventional and more recently electric cars. To address this issue, this article investigates the behaviour and preferences of new consumer groups in the Berlin car sharing market focusing on the following research questions:

1. Who are the user groups of the different car sharing systems in Berlin including conventional and electric cars and how do these customer groups act in this emerging market?
2. As certain user groups might not be fixed to one provider but have several car sharing memberships simultaneously and use different offers: How does this affect the classical concept of customer loyalty and thereby the prediction of future mobility behaviour?

To address these questions, several surveys within the project Berlin elektroMobil (short BeMobility) were carried out focusing on the intelligent networking of electric shared vehicles and public transport, exemplified by the city of Berlin.

The surveys relevant for discussion include two quantitative studies on conventional and new car sharing offers. The main objective of the first survey was to evaluate the characteristics of car sharing members, their general expectations and experiences with electric vehicles and their preferences in regards to new car sharing offers. The target group of the study were members of the Deutsche Bahn car sharing system Flinkster. The survey was developed as a computer assisted web interview (CAWI) and distributed via mail. The key aim of the second survey was to evaluate the long term behaviour of car sharing members in regards to different car sharing offers in Berlin. On this basis, a further online survey (CAWI) was carried addressing car sharing users.

The results of the first study indicate that car sharing members tend to be male and middle-aged, living in a household with a comparable high income. In terms of travel behaviour they are multi-modal, using and combining different transport modes including car sharing. The participants of the study tend to have more than one car sharing membership, on average they are member of 1.78 car sharing organisations (including Flinkster) with a range between 1 and 4 memberships. The study also identifies two customer groups: Non-multi-chooser who are a member of only one car sharing organisation (in this case a member of Flinkster) and multi-chooser who are members of at least two car sharing organisations, including Flinkster and at least one other provider.

The second survey reveals a strong indication that in general the customer loyalty and commitment towards a certain car sharing provider becomes less important for the user group with several car sharing memberships (multi-chooser) despite satisfaction, recommendation, use purpose and actual use in regards to the provider or offer.

Considering the identified customer groups acting in a growing and diversifying mobility market it can be concluded that for the provision of innovative, multimodal and integrated mobility services research bodies and transport providers must continue to cooperate and coordinate their activities on a local, regional and national level.

Publisher

Association for European Transport