Can Car-sharing Substantially Reduce the Problems Arising from Car- Ownership - Some Empirical Findings from Germany



Can Car-sharing Substantially Reduce the Problems Arising from Car- Ownership - Some Empirical Findings from Germany

Authors

CHLOND B and WASSMUTH V, University of Karlsruhe, Germany

Description

Car-Sharing (CS) is defined in the German language as the shared ownership of cars organised and managed by an organisafion or club owning a number of cars, which are lent to the customers or participants, respectively.

Abstract

Car-Sharing (CS) is defined in the German language as the shared ownership of cars organised and managed by an organisafion or club owning a number of cars, which are lent to the customers or participants, respectively.

As opposed to car rental firms, where the renting of a ear is a single event, the idea of car sharing is, that people own the car(s) together, that means they pay a relatively small amount to have the possibility to lend a car and give the organisation a credit which can be considered as a capital stock to buy the vehicles in advance. This amount is refunded once a person leaves the organisation.

The car is given to the participants for a certain time, those have to pay the complete costs for the use of a car that means depreciation, costs for taxes, insurance, petrol, maintenance, service and repairs etc. This means that the users are paying the average cost for the usage of the cars. These average cost per kilometre are about comparable or even less, than a single owner of a car would pay, because the distribution of all time-dependent costs to a much higher mileage within one year leads to lower average cost. Additional cost are the cost for organisation, accounting, reservation etc..

Altogether do all this aspects lead to the conclusion that it is cheaper become a participant in a CS organisation than to own a private car provided that the yearly mileage is anyway low. All these and some other advantages have led to a growing popularity of CS in Germany. Starting from the first attempt in Berlin 1988 [PETERSEN 1993] in March 1994 existed about 70 organisations. Actual reliable figures for the status quo all over Germany are not available because at the moment there are every week new participants.

CS has arrested attention for transport policy and transport planning because if there is a reduction in car-ownership as well as a reduction in the mileage by CS participants there would be some advantageous effects:

* Because the modal choice for shared cars is ruled by the average costs instead of the marginal costs the CS participants will show a more cost-oriented modal choice. This might lead to a reduction of congestion, emissions etc. as an ideal consequence.

* An average private car is only used one hour each day, the rest of time it is idle. That means that a lot of cars are used much more seldom. Altogether do all these unused cars occupy expensive and rare parking space. If one car is shared by a number of people (a typical average ratio is 1 car for 15 persons) the parking problem in urban areas could be reduced.

* CS can therefore be a complementary measure for improving the attractivity of urban living: The approaches to create new central residential areas by reconstucting former industrial and especially in Germany former military sites can be supported by CS. There car-ownership is obviously not necessary, because a reasonable supply by public transport and the accessibility of work-place and the functions of urban living by non-motorised modes can be assumed. The saved space can be used for other purposes, e.g. the compaction of the areas which reduces the need for travel by itself.

Nevertheless there are aspects which have to be taken into consideration to understand where the limits of the use of CS are:

* The decision to make use of a car has normally to be made a certain time in advance to a certain trip. Sudden changes or a sudden demand for a car cannot be satisfied normally. The access to a car cannot be always warranted. That means that a certain degree of flexibility is necessary for CS people, which cannot be expected for everybody (e.g. families with young children).

* The access to a car is relatively complicated: making a reservation, going tO the place where the car is located, getting organised the key (usually in a safe nearby the location the car is parked), searching for the car (!).

* Once CS will be more and more popular the organisations will loose their intimate character where everybody knows the other users. There is the danger of misuse, the lack of reliability, even vandalism etc.

* The timing of the trip has to be planned completely in advance including the timing of end of the trip, which has to be announced at the reservation. That means that an expansion of the reserved period is impossible.

Thus the typical and classical characteristics of the private car (flexibility, possibility of a spontaneous trips, privacy, use) is not given completely by shared cars. These aspects have to be kept in mind if one wants to assess and predict the effects as well as the potentials.

Publisher

Association for European Transport