Ghent: Car-Sharing City

Ghent: Car-Sharing City

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In January 2017, and the City of Ghent launched a brand new, two year-long communication campaign: “Gent op en top autodeelstad” (Ghent Car-Sharing City). This campaign is part of the ambitious Car-Sharing Action Plan from the city with the main goal to achieve 20,000 car-sharing members by the year 2020. The kick-off promises a good, funny and engaging campaign!

By Jeffrey Matthijs,

Ghent wants to be the “Bremen” of Belgium

The City of Ghent launched its Car-Sharing Action Plan in 2016. Inspired by the German City of Bremen and the European Interreg project “CARE-North plus”, the city set some ambitious goals. Amongst other things, the aim is to reach 20,000 car-sharing members and 500 dedicated parking places for shared cars by the year 2020. Also very important and trendsetting, the City has made 100,000 € of funding available for a communication campaign concerning car-sharing in general. The Flemish car-sharing network,, is coordinating the whole campaign.

Two years of vibration

Considering that two years is a long period to have a thrilling communication campaign, the project partners decided to cut the time frame into short segments of two or three months. Every segment targets a specific neighbourhood and/or target group (for instance, elderly people, students, people with low income, etc.).

First segment: we want you!

Smart and maybe strange, the first segment targeted the existing car-sharing members. The idea was to thank them for already making a difference in the city of Ghent and to engage them in promoting car-sharing. Research done by (and supported by other studies) showed that the best way to convince people to start sharing a car is via existing car-sharing members. This seems logical considering that one trusts someone from the peer-group more than a company.
More than 150 car-sharing members were present at the official kick-off event of this segment. To thank them, they were treated to free drinks and frites, a concert from Trashbeatz (who used garbage to make vibrating music) and an engaging speech from Counsellor Filip Watteeuw.

Counsellor Filip Watteeuw addresses Ghent Car-Sharing users. Photo copyright: Christophe vde

Use it, don’t own it

To start spreading the car-sharing bug, every existing car-sharing member received a set of postcards. Again inspired by the City of Bremen, we used funny slogans with the general idea “why buy something if you just can use it?” In Bremen, they asked citizens, “Do you by a cow if you want a glass of milk?”: In Ghent, this idea was translated to include typical city symbols, for instance, the local football team (the Buffalo’s), the museum (SMAK) or a local drink (Roomer) and so we ask the inhabitants: “Do you buy a stadium if you want to watch the Buffalo’s?” or “Would you buy your own brewery if you want to drink a Roomer?” On the backside of the postcards one can indicate in a checkbox why they think their friend or neighbour should share a car. The reasons for sharing a car also included humorous options such as, that your neighbour should share a car because your car is always messy or because then they can buy you a drink in the pub.

Starting with.6.000 car-sharing member in January 2017, will provide an update in 2018 about the progress of the “20.000 by 2020” goals here.

04 May 2017