Free-Floating E-Carsharing: Integration in Public Transport Without Range Problems

Free-Floating E-Carsharing: Integration in Public Transport Without Range Problems


Josephine Steiner, InnoZ - Innovation Centre for Mobility and Societal Change, Germany, Sandra Wappelhorst, InnoZ - Innovation Centre for Mobility and Societal Change, Andreas Graff


The paper presents final results of the project "BeMobility 2.0" in Berlin which covered free-floating carsharing with electric cars. The results show that this mobility offer forms a perfect additional component for an integrated mobility system.


Urban areas need to develop intelligent transportation concepts to meet the current and future mobility requirements of all stakeholders such as residents, commuters, and travelers. There are many approaches to make urban spaces more livable. This includes the reduction of motorised private transport and the associated benefits such as the reduction in local CO2- and noise emissions.

These and other factors like dwindling fossil resources confirm the importance of alternative fuelled vehicles in urban mobility contexts such as the introduction of electric vehicles. However, recent research suggests that electric cars in private use as well as in station-based carsharing systems often encounter acceptance problems. One frequently cited obstacle is the limited range of electric vehicles compared to conventional cars.

This article addresses these issues. Furthermore, it is shown that the mobility service and thus the context of use in which the electric car is embedded, is the determining factor to reduce use barriers of electric mobility. As part of the project "BeMobility 2.0", the integration of electric mobility in the public transportation system was analysed in the City of Berlin between 2012 and 2013. The focus lay on a free-floating carsharing system with electric vehicles. Within the project context users of this system and their experiences were evaluated in-depths by qualitative and quantitative surveys.

The experiences that users have made with the electric carsharing system are manifold. The results show that the propulsion of the vehicle is secondary from the perspective of the users. Due to the short distances travelled when using flexible carsharing (on average 6 km) the battery level and thus range of the electric vehicle plays a minor role. Use barriers are generally not drive-specific, but rather depend on the offer itself or the environment. For example, the design of the tariff system, or finding a parking space are often stated to be an obstacle.

Additionally, the project results provide first indications about the relation between public transport and free-floating carsharing. Thus, for a majority of respondents the use of free-floating carsharing increases the attractiveness of public transport. An often discussed hypothesis that fears a substitution from trips made with public transport to free-floating carsharing can be falsified by the collected data. Although, it is correct that a large proportion of the carsharing trips would otherwise have been made with trains or buses, interviews show that such trips were especially made in situations where the use of public transport was not an attractive alternative, for example due to disruption, or poor connections. Also, the average us frequency of an electric carsharing vehicle is so low that a competition with public transport can be excluded. In addition, no public transport user with a season-ticket had the intension to cancel this in favour of exclusively using carsharing.

Free-floating e-carsharing represents no competition for public transport but can rather be a complement and compensate its weaknesses. Thus, free-floating e-carsharing forms an additional component for an attractive urban-friendly integrated mobility system.


Association for European Transport