What is carsharing?
Simple: it’s sharing a vehicle. This model emerged in Switzerland in 1987, and it involves taking advantage of a vehicle’s downtime so that several people can use it.
How does carsharing work?
Carsharing, whether public or private, offers a fleet of vehicles that can be used for short periods of time (in most cases, minutes, though there are models that incorporate hourly or daily rentals).
The vehicle is booked in advance by phone, internet, or, most commonly, through mobile apps, which provide the location of the nearest vehicles. You only pay for vehicle usage, either by time or mileage.
This shouldn’t be confused with traditional car rentals or carpooling (like Blablacar).
What are the advantages of the carsharing system?
With carsharing, users enjoy the benefits of having a private vehicle without taking on all the investments and responsibilities buying one entails: taxes, insurance, maintenance, parking, cleaning, and so on.
On average, sharing a car costs €0.40 per kilometer, compared to €0.60 for a private car; traditional rental cars cost about €0.86 per kilometer. It’s estimated that carsharing is cheaper than owning a private vehicle if you travel ten to twelve thousand kilometers a year.
In cities, though, it also complements public transit, helping to meet residents’ mobility needs. At the same time, it lowers the total number of vehicles in urban centers, as well as the space required for parking them. It is estimated that for every shared car in circulation, the need for up to twenty private cars is eliminated.
In environmental terms, carsharing makes drivers more aware of the cost of each trip, thus reducing their driving time by up to 31%. It is estimated that carsharing prevented the emission of 482,170 tons of CO2 globally in 2009.
How to use carsharing
Every carsharing system is different. Generally, you have to register with the company by presenting the proper documentation and your driver’s license in order to start using the service. With the terms and conditions accepted and a payment method on file, you can find a vehicle.
Depending on the company, vehicles may be located in parking areas or parked anywhere on any city street. Once you locate a car, you have to make the reservation, usually through an app, to open the vehicle’s doors and start it.
The usage fee may be charged on the spot or billed at the end of the month.
Who are the leaders in carsharing in Spain?
The first Spanish operator was Avancar, which started in 2005 in Barcelona. It currently has a fleet of 120 vehicles. Other Catalan operators include Som Mobilitat, Respiro Carsharing, Bluemove Carsharing, Clickcar, Car Sharing Navarra, and Ibilek.
In Madrid, the first carsharing company to go into operation was car2go (a subsidiary of Daimler and Europcar) in 2015, with Smart ForTwo cars. The next was Emov (PSA Peugeot Citroën and Eysa) in 2016, with the Citroën C-Zero. Then came ZITY (Ferrovial and Renault) in 2017, with the Renault ZOE. These all use electric cars. Finally, in 2018, WiBLE (Repsol and Kia) came onto the scene with Kia Niro hybrids.
While most carsharing is limited to central areas, ZITY also makes getaways to the surrounding area possible. With this service, Renault Spain and Ferrovial Services have combined their capabilities in the field of urban services and developing environmentally friendly solutions.
Fun facts about carsharing
- According to a survey, 75% of Barcelonans would be willing to sell their private cars, and 66% are interested in carsharing as alternative mobility.
- It’s estimated that carsharing services are present in more than 600 cities across 18 countries and four continents, with a total fleet of more than 30,000 vehicles.
- In one year, about 60 million kilometers of travel time looking for parking are eliminated thanks to the smaller number of cars. This saves about 10,000 tons of greenhouse gasses.