Customers´ needs for flexibility: Car sharing services instead of private cars?

Type de publication:

Conference Paper


Gerpisa colloquium, 27.02.2015, Paris (2015)


car sharing


ABSTRACT: Customers´ needs for flexibility: Car sharing services instead of private cars?

In recent years innovative and integrated business models like car sharing are emerging. Car sharing services allow people to use cars on demand. Station based offers which are booked in advance at fixed stations have been on the market for many years. Free floating systems have developed more recently, yet they have shown an outstanding increase in recent years (AIM Carsharing-Barometer 2014). Those services provide spontaneous booking, instant and seamless access as well as one-way trips. Both systems exist with electric and with conventional cars.

Car sharing services provide more flexibility in choosing different modes of transportation without having the responsibility of a private car. This seems to meet the needs of a growing number of people. Mobility habits seem to go through a radical change. This development implicates a large impact on the automotive industry. In this respect, the question rises to which extent car sharing will be substituting the ownership of private cars in the future.

To address this issue this article investigates the following research questions:
1. How can car sharing user groups be characterized and what motivates them to use car sharing offers?
2. When is car sharing used and which means of traffic are substituted through it?

A survey within the Showcase Programme “Electric Fleets for Berlin-Brandenburg” were carried out to address these questions. The sample consisted of people being members of a stationary car sharing system (Flinkster) and of a free floating car sharing system with electric vehicles (Multicity Carsharing). Both offers from Deutsche Bahn AG encourage a seamless mobility chain beyond train rides.

The survey relevant for discussion consists of a quantitative study, which was developed as computer assisted web interview (CAWI) and distributed via mail. Key objectives of the survey were to evaluate the characteristics of car sharing customers and the using purposes.

The results of the study confirms findings from former surveys: car sharing members of stationary and free floating car sharing services are male and middle-aged, living in a household with a comparable high income. In terms of travel behavior they are multi-modal, using and combining different transport modes including car sharing.
Respondents are most often substituting the public transport system through the usage of car sharing. Reasons are for example disorders in the public transport or the necessity to transport persons or large objects.

Considering the identified customer groups it can be concluded that it is not the inability to afford a private car that brings people to car sharing. Instead it is the strong need of flexibility within their daily mobility. This need should be met through innovative, multimodal and integrated mobility services. To develop more service-orientated and less product-orientated offers is the challenge the automotive industry has to face.

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