The Return of the – Car Sharing!
May the force of environmentally friendly car sharing be with you!
Car sharing is a model of car rental where people rent cars for short periods of time, like by the hour. They are attractive to customers who make only occasional use of a vehicle, as well as others who would like occasional access to a vehicle of a different type than they use day-to-day. This car sharing principle reduces the need for cars on the road, which reduces the carbon emissions that can contribute to climate change.
Car sharing is not new, the first reference to car sharing in print identifies the Selbstfahrergenossenschaft car share program in a housing cooperative that got underway in Zürich in 1948 but there was no known formal development of the concept in the next few years. By 1960s as innovators, industrialists, cities, and public authorities studied the possibility of high-technology transportation—mainly computer-based small vehicle systems (almost all of them on separate roads or guide rails and lines)—it was possible to spot some early precursors to present-day service ideas and control technologies. Transport engineering has been searching for a sustainable way to offer transport for some decades.
It was in the early 1970s that the first whole-system car share project was fully mobilized. The ProcoTip system in France lasted only about two years. A much more ambitious project called the Witkar was launched in Amsterdam by the founders of the 1968 white bicycles project. A sophisticated project based on small electric vehicles, electronic controls for reservations and return, and plans for a large number of stations covering the entire city, the project endured into the mid-1980s before finally being abandoned.
In July, 1977, the first official British experiment in car sharing started in Suffolk. An office in Ipswich provided a Share-a-Car service for “putting motorists who are interested in sharing car journeys in touch with each other.” In 1978, the Agricultural Research Council granted the University of Leeds £16,577 “for an investigation and simulation of car sharing”. The scheme was not intended for different drivers of a single car but for a driver offering seats in his car. More of a ride sharing than car sharing – a hitch hikers dream!
The 1980s and first half of the 1990s was a “coming of age” period for car sharing, with continued slow growth, mainly of smaller non-profit systems, many in Switzerland and Germany, but also on a smaller scale in Sweden, the Netherlands, Canada and the United States. Zipcar, Flexcar (bought by Zipcar in 2007) and City Car Club were all started in 2000. Several car rental companies launched their own car sharing services beginning in 2008, including Hertz on Demand (formerly known as Connect by Hertz), operating in the U.S. and Europe; WeCar by Enterprise Rent-A-Car; Uhaul Car Share owned by U-Haul, and Avis On Location by Avis. By 2010 when various peer-to-peer car sharing systems were introduced, Zipcar accounted for 80% of the U.S car sharing market and half of all car-sharers worldwide with 730,000 members sharing 11,000 vehicles As of September 2012.
Car-sharing has also spread to the developing world (China, Mexico, Brazil, Turkey, and India) because population density is often a critical determinant of success for car-sharing and developing nations often have highly dense urban populations. These are also cities that suffer with huge pollution problems and car sharing is a workable solution to lessen the production of climate changing gasses.
Many building developers are now incorporating share-cars into their developments as an added value to tenants. Municipal government bodies around the world are starting to stipulate the implementation of a car-sharing service in new buildings as a sustainability initiative. This has created a demand for a new model of car-sharing – residential, private-access share-cars that are typically underwritten by the owner of the building.
Car sharing differs from traditional car rentals in the following ways:
- Car sharing is not limited by office hours
- Reservation, pickup, and return is all self-service
- Vehicles can be rented by the minute, by the hour, as well as by the day
- Users are members and have been pre-approved to drive (background driving checks have been performed and a payment mechanism has been established)
- Vehicle locations are distributed throughout the service area, and often located for access by public transport.
- Insurance: minimum liability insurance, comprehensive and collision insurance is covered. They do not provide uninsured, under-insured or personal injury protection insurance.
- Fuel costs are included in the rates.
- Vehicles are not serviced (cleaning, fuelling) after each use, although certain programs such as Car2Go continuously clean and fuel their fleet
The Calgary Car Sharing Experience
Car sharing is synonymous with Car2Go in Calgary. Car2go is an international car-sharing service providing innovative urban transportation for Calgary residents. Calgary should be proud to have become the fastest growing car2go city in the world.
It is a subsidiary of Daimler AG providing car sharing services in European and North American cities. The company offers exclusively Smart Fortwo vehicles and features one-way point-to-point rentals. Users are charged by the minute, with hourly and daily rates available. The service forgoes the typical car rental office model, and cars are user-accessed wherever parked via a downloadable smart phone app.
The simplicity, mobility and omnipresence of Car2Go made car sharing a trend in Calgary. According to Car2Go users it is always a pleasure to drive: just take it, drive it and park it, so simple and straightforward. There is always vehicle that you can use in the area. Just open it with the member card you receive after signing up go from point A to point B, park your Car2Go again and voila – that’s that. It’s fun and at the same time saves money and helps the environment.
Car2Go utilizes the power of clean modern technology and the web. Book online 30 minutes before you want to drive that way you can save yourself the wait and get to your destination faster. At your destination you can either leave the vehicle, or go back to it if you want to drive further. There’s never been such a flexible way to get about!
To avoid parking penalty violations do not forget to review the company’s rules of parking and Home Area before making a trip. To be sure you can end your trip in Car2Go designated parking, which are scattered around the city and easily accessible. Simply find them on the in car touch screen or mobile apps.
Car sharing is a great green way to have all the accessibility of car ownership, with all the earth damaging problems car use, or overuse, can cause. May that kind of force always be with us!