Electric Car-Sharing: Not the Best Combination…yet!

Electric Car-Sharing: Not the Best Combination…yet!

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Just like the sharing of cars, electric vehicles are becoming more common. Within a few years, breakthroughs are possible in both areas. With time, it may be expected that all new cars will be electric vehicles. If this happens, shared cars will also become electric. It might look as if electric car-sharing combines the best of both worlds. At this moment, this combination is not obvious yet, due to several reasons…

By Ananda Groag (shareNL) and Friso Metz (Advier)

As stated above, the combination of car-sharing and electric vehicles is not yet ideal. First of all, the step to start car-sharing is a big one for potential users. Driving an electric vehicle is also a big step. For a limited target group the combination may be interesting. However, for the majority of people this double change of behaviour is just too much. The combination with electric cars could even keep potential users to start car-sharing at all.

Second, the costs of electric vehicles are higher and many financial uncertainties are common. For car-sharing providers, this complicates their business case. Most users will not accept extra costs and many practical aspects of electric vehicles require extra handling for operators.

Business case within reach in time

The costs of electric vehicles are expected to decrease, the driving range will increase and a growing number of people will start to drive an electric vehicle. Within time, these developments will result in a positive business case. When governments promote electric driving and car-sharing separately, electric car-sharing soon will be within reach.

Car-sharing is already an environmentally friendly mode of transport

Even when shared cars are non-electric, they form an environmentally friendly means of transportation. The biggest benefit of car-sharing is the transition from ownership to usage. Car-sharers mostly use sustainable means of transportation and only make use of a car on a needs basis.

Transition towards car-sharing with electric vehicles

In order to create a breakthrough for car-sharing, it is necessary not to emphasise the relevance of electric vehicles. By doing this, it could be prevented that the development of car-sharing slows down. Otherwise, the “better” becomes the enemy of the “good” at a crucial stage of development of shared mobility. Furthermore, a strong urban policy is needed in order to enhance the development of car-sharing.

In the meantime, governments and operators could explore the options for lowering the emissions of shared cars. Just like in London, all providers should be involved in this process, independent of the fleets they offer.

Exploration of EV car-sharing in London

Transport for London (TfL) aims for 1 million car-sharing users in 2025. 50% of the car-sharing fleet should consist of EV’s by that year. TfL has interviewed 12 operators and all boroughs in order to explore whether these targets are realistic and how they could be reached. A myriad of opportunities and risks were mentioned by the interviewees. It became obvious that tension exists between the ambitions of car-sharing providers and those of the boroughs to realise sufficient parking space for car-sharing.

Supported by the SHARE-North project and the Dutch Transport Expertise Centre CROW-KpVV, the working group municipal policies of the Dutch Green Deal on Car-Sharing has carried this research about the opportunities and risks of car-sharing with electric vehicles. You can read the whole report (in Dutch) here:

Car-Sharing with Electric Vehicles (Dutch)

26 May 2017