From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- This article deals with the use of shared cars for public transport purposes. For the activity of private sharing arrangements between car owners, see Carpool
Carsharing vehicles in their reserved spots
Carsharing is a model of car rental where people rent cars for short periods of time, often by the hour. The organization renting the cars may be a commercial business or the users may be organized as a democratically-controlled company, public agency, cooperative, ad hoc grouping. Today there are more than six hundred cities in the world where people can carshare.
The term carsharing is also used for carpooling or ride sharing some places.
Despite its evident English language origins, the term carsharing (earlier often written as two separate words, and still today occasionally hyphenated) is now the widely accepted international term. Synonyms include autodelen in Dutch, autopartage in French, bildeling in Danish, and bilpool in Swedish. In the United Kingdom the term “car clubs” is used, while “car sharing” is also used to refer to ride sharing. Brand names in use include: Andelsbilklub, AutoDelen, Autotaxis, Autoteilen, Auto zum Teilen, Autoparate, Avancar, Bilpool, Block Cars, Caisse Commune, Cambio, CampusCars, CarSharing, Car-Share, CHOICE, CityCarClub, community cars, cOgO Car, Co-Op Auto Network, Cooperative Auto Network (CAN), Dancing Rabbit, Flexcar, GreenCar, HaBil, HOURCAR, ICVS, Mobizen, Motor Pool Co-operative, NTUC CarCo-op, Posibil (Norway), PubliCars, self-drive taxis, Stadtcar, Stadtmobil, Station Cars, StattAuto, teilAuto, Witkars and Zipcar.
“Carpooling” or “ride-sharing” refers to the shared use of a car for a specific journey, in particular for commuting to work, often by people who each have a car but travel together to save costs. However, there is a slight terminological hitch in the UK where the term car sharing (two words in this usage) is used for what in the U.S. is called “ride sharing“. Carsharing in the sense discussed in this article is a recent development in Britain, and while such plans are still known more known as car clubs (a term which, in the U.S., refers strictly to a club of car hobbyists) the international term carsharing is gradually gaining currency there as well.
As is often the case with innovations that spring up more or less spontaneously in different parts of the world, operations are organized in many different ways in different places, according to the objectives of the organizers and users. A small informal start-up may have only one shared car, and only a handful of sharers. Larger services tend to focus on urban areas where there are many potential customers.
Carsharing differs from traditional car rentals in the following ways:
- Carsharing is not limited by office hours
- Reservation, pickup, and return is all self-service
- Vehicles can be rented 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 and fuel costs are included in the rates.
Some carshare operations (CSOs) cooperate with local car rental firms to offer best value to their customers (in particular in situations where classic rental may be the cheaper option.)
Urban car sharing is often promoted as an alternative to owning a car where public transit, walking, and cycling can be used most of the time and a car is only necessary for out-of-town trips, moving large items, or special occasions. It can also be an alternative to owning multiple cars for households with more than one driver. A long-term study of City CarShare members by Robert Cervero, Professor of City and Regional Planning at the University of California, Berkeley, found that 30 percent of households that joined sold a car; others delayed purchasing one. Transit use, bicycling, and walking also increased among members.
Car sharing is generally not cost-effective for commuting to a full-time job on a regular basis. Most carsharing advocates, operators and cooperating public agencies believe that those who do not drive daily or who drive less than 10,000 kilometers (about 6,200 statute miles) annually may find carsharing to be more cost-effective than car ownership. But variations of 50% on this figure are reported by operators and others depending on local context. If occasional use of a shared vehicle costs significantly less than car ownership, this makes automobile use more accessible to low-income households.
Car sharing can also help reduce congestion and pollution. Replacing private automobiles with shared ones directly reduces demand for parking spaces. The fact that only a certain number of cars can be in use at any one time may reduce traffic congestion at peak times. Even more important for congestion, the strong metering of costs provides a cost incentive to drive less. With owned automobiles many expenses are independent of how much they are driven (such as original purchase, insurance, and maintenance).
Successful carsharing development has tended to be associated mainly with densely populated areas such as city centers and more recently university and other campuses. There are some programs (mostly in Europe) for providing services in lower density and rural areas.
Low-density areas are considered more difficult to serve with car sharing because of the lack of alternative modes of transportation and the potentially larger distance that users must travel to reach the cars.