Connecting experimental processes and systemic change: The role of car sharing in a transition towards sustainable mobility.

Publication Type:

Conference Paper


Gerpisa colloquium, Paris (2018)


Transition to a low-carbon transport system is a key challenge in today’s society. Transportation contributes to pollution and is responsible for about one third of the energy consumption in Europe. R&D and policies about new technologies such as electrical vehicles and electrical bicycles can contribute in handling some of the environmental challenges. However, to reach the goals of lower emissions, more than technological change is required. Shared mobility is a different way of using cars that can contribute to more sustainable mobility. Car sharing in Oslo, Norway, has experienced rapid growth recent years. To create knowledge about this growth, this paper studies how the experimental and emerging use can contribute to change the whole car system in urban areas. The study can create an understanding about how policies, the car industry and technologies can be part of this change. This paper takes the whole system change as the unit of analysis. Instead of only looking into how the product and use of car sharing itself is developed, this paper focuses on how car sharing can be part of a system change in a transition towards sustainable mobility. This system approach therefor takes a different approach than studying the diffusion of the innovation. Instead, by analyzing how households use car sharing, the paper provides knowledge about the transition of car use and enables a discussion on how this can contribute to a sustainable transition of the car system. While the focus in this line of research has been focused on how niches develop in this system perspective, we have yet to understand the effects these niches has to the whole system. To address this gap, this paper follows concepts on forms of reconfiguration to identify how car sharing is affecting the car system. The paper analyses the change by looking into three areas on how this new use of cars is competing, co-existing and complementary with the existing system. The research question addressed is; How can the current experimental processes of implementing car sharing in Oslo provide the potential to reconfigure the current car system at a city scale, and in what ways? The study employs data from semi-structured interviews with 37 households that are members of three different types of car-sharing services in Oslo. This paper discusses how car sharing involves a relationship between new and old socio-technical arrangements and how this affects the connection to policies and technologies. Further, it discusses how this process also can be considered a competing struggle between new and old, as car sharing functions as a facilitator for reducing car-ownership. With this, the study discuss in what ways the use of car sharing can arrange for or be responsible for the change of the car system in cities and further argue that car sharing plays a role in a transition towards sustainable mobility in Oslo. The practical implications of this is empirical end theoretical knowledge about the role of car sharing in the ongoing change of the system of cars.

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