- Car sharing
- This article deals with the short-term rental of cars. For the shared use of cars by persons with similar travel needs see Carpool.
Car sharing or Carsharing (in the UK known as car clubs) is a model of car rental where people rent cars for short periods of time, often 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. 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 one thousand cities in the world where people can carshare.
The term "carsharing" is also used for carpooling or ride sharing in 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, automobile condivisa in Italian 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.
The principle of carsharing is simple: individuals gain the benefits of private cars without the costs and responsibilities of ownership. Instead of owning one or more vehicles, a household accesses a fleet of vehicles on an as-needed basis. Carsharing may be thought of as organized short-term car rental. 
"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 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 and fuel costs are included in the rates.
- Vehicles are not serviced (cleaning fueling) after each use, although certain programs such as Car2Go continuously clean and fuel their fleet
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.)
An increasing body of empirical evidence indicates that carsharing can provide numerous transportation, land use, environmental, and social benefits.  Neighborhood carsharing 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. A study of driving behavior of members from major carsharing organizations found an average decline in 27% of annual VKT.
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 sunk costs and thus independent of how much the car is driven (such as original purchase, insurance, registration and some 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.
People who have joined car sharing sell either their primary, secondary, or another off-hand car, after using the service. This reduces the cost of transportation per month by an average of $135 – $435, based on University of Berkeley's Research in 2008.
How it works
The technology of CSOs varies enormously, from simple manual systems using key boxes and log books to increasingly complex computer-based systems (e.g. partially automated and fully automated systems) with supporting software packages that handle a growing array of back office functions. The simplest CSOs have only one or two pick-up points, but more advanced systems allow cars to be picked up and dropped off at any available public parking space within a designated operating area.
While differing markedly in their objectives, size, business models, levels of ambition, technology and target markets, these programs do share many features. The more established operations usually require a check of past driving records and a monthly or annual fee in order to become a member. The cost and maximum time a car may be used also varies.
To make a reservation, one can either make a reservation online, by phone, or by text messages depending on the company’s flexibility. Then the company usually asks all the necessary information such as:
- What time will the car be needed?
- How long will the car be in use?
- Where would you like to pick up the car?
- What type of car is preferred?
There is a higher chance of availability the earlier the reservation is. If a reservation is cancelled however, one may still be charged.
Once the reservations are completed and confirmed, the car will then be delivered at the time and place scheduled. There will be a small card reader mounted on the windshield. Once the customer places their membership card on the reader, it will use what is called blink technology to activate the time and unlock the car. The reader will not work until it is time for that specific reservation. The keys can then be found somewhere inside the car such as the glove compartment. Depending on the company, the customer may be provided with a key to a lock box that contains the ignition key itself. Once the customer is set, they are off to their next destination.
Although members are often responsible for cleaning the car and filling up the tank when low, the car sharing company is generally responsible for the long-term maintenance of the vehicles. Members have to make sure that when they are finished, the car is ready for the next user to move on.
The first reference to carsharing in print identifies the Selbstfahrergenossenschaft carshare 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 the 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 guideways)—it was possible to spot some early precursors to present-day service ideas and control technologies.
The early 1970s saw the first whole-system carshare projects. 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.
The 1980s and first half of the 1990s was a "coming of age" period for carsharing, 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. The real watershed in the development of the sector came in the 1990s with such larger and more structured projects as
- StattAuto in Germany
- cambio CarSharing in Germany
- the two precursors of Mobility CarSharing in Switzerland
- Greenwheels in the Netherlands.
- Communauto in Canada
Follow up developments include
- CommunAuto, then Co-operative Auto Network and later AutoShare in Canada
- Flexcar (now merged with Zipcar) in Portland, Oregon
- Zipcar in Boston
- Community Car in Madison
- WhizzGo in England
- CityCarClub in England and Scotland
- GoGet in Australia followed by Smartdrivers in mid 2007
- Car2Go, first in Ulm, Germany in October 2008 then Austin, Texas in May 2010
- GoCar in Ireland
- Autolib' that will operate 3,000 electric cars and schedule to open in Paris in December 2011.
As of November 2011 the largest service in the world was Zipcar with 650,000 members (called "Zipsters"), and 9,400 vehicles across 19 major cities and over 250 college campuses. Prior data from 2010 suggests Zipcar accounts for 80% of the U.S car sharing market and half of all car-sharers worldwide.
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; and U Car Share owned by U-Haul.
In 2010 a new approach to carsharing began to be implemented, based on a peer-to-peer model. Examples of peer-to-peer car rental include
- Getaround in San Francisco Bay Area
- RelayRides in San Francisco and Boston
- Spride Share in San Francisco
- Go-Op in Pittsburgh
Adapting carsharing vehicles to persons with physical disabilities presents special challenges not faced by traditional car rental. With car sharing no mechanic is present to install or adjust adaptive equipment, and that equipment is left unattended after each use. In 2008 City CarShare introduced the first wheelchair carrying car share vehicle, the Access Mobile, specifically designed as a fleet vehicle shared with, not segregated from, non-wheelchair users.
Car sharing operators are increasingly opting to brand parts of their fleets with third-party advertising in order to increase revenue and improve competitiveness. Transit media, as this out-of-home advertising medium is referred to, is a strategy currently (or soon to be) employed by larger car sharing operators such, Canada's AutoShare and the UK's City Car Club, as well as smaller operators such as Australia's Charter Drive Car Share.
For future applications, many car sharing companies are now investing in plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV). With the use of these types of vehicles, cost of gas consumption can be greatly reduced. Since most customers do not need the vehicle for long amounts of time or distance, it gives the car sharing company time to collect and recharge these vehicles for additional use. This application can greatly reduce carbon emissions and improve city environments.
Also, car sharing can be considered as an example of a technological change in consumption, which is a ‘process of mutual adjustment between innovation and its socio-economic environment.’ This type of innovation poses much potential due to the current state of technological change based on today’s passenger transportation capabilities.
Other countries are already moving into designing concept cars that is solely based as an urban public vehicle. The Phiaro P70t Conch, Japan’s new concept vehicle, is a completely battery powered, three-seater vehicle which was designed for the purpose of car sharing. The vehicle was made to be small and compact enough to be driven around urban environments without sacrificing parking. The promotion of these kinds of concept vehicles have caught the attention of automotive companies worldwide.
- Alternatives to the automobile
- Car rental
- Peer-to-peer car rental
- Momo car-sharing European demonstration project on carsharing
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- Car Sharing.Canada
- Car-Sharing Instant Advocate
- What is Car Sharing and How Does it Work? - A primer on car sharing.
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car-sharing — UK [ˈkɑː(r) ˌʃeərɪŋ] US [ˈkɑr ˌʃerɪŋ] noun [uncountable] british an arrangement in which a group of people travel together in one car to work or school Thesaurus: passengers and riding in vehicleshyponym … Useful english dictionary
Car-Sharing — Carsharing [ˈkaː(r)ˌʃeərɪŋ] (engl. car = „Auto“, to share = „teilen“; auf deutsch etwa: „Autoteilen“, „Gemeinschaftsauto“ oder „Teilauto“; andere Schreibweisen: Car Sharing, Car Sharing, CarSharing) ist die organisierte gemeinschaftliche Nutzung… … Deutsch Wikipedia
Car Sharing — Carsharing [ˈkaː(r)ˌʃeərɪŋ] (engl. car = „Auto“, to share = „teilen“; auf deutsch etwa: „Autoteilen“, „Gemeinschaftsauto“ oder „Teilauto“; andere Schreibweisen: Car Sharing, Car Sharing, CarSharing) ist die organisierte gemeinschaftliche Nutzung… … Deutsch Wikipedia
Car-Sharing — Car|sha|ring, Car Sha|ring [ ka:ɐ̯ʃɛ:ɐ̯rɪŋ ], das; [s] [engl. carsharing, aus: car = (Kraft)wagen u. to share = teilen]: organisierte [gebührenpflichtige] Nutzung eines Autos von mehreren Personen. * * * Car|sha|ring, (auch:) Car Sha|ring [… … Universal-Lexikon
car sharing — /ˈka ʃɛərɪŋ/ (say kah shairring) noun a system by which a car is made available to a group of people for a rental fee, the participants of the scheme booking the car as needed … Australian English dictionary
Car-Sharing — D✓Car|sha|ring, Car Sha|ring [ ka:ɐ̯ʃɛ:ɐ̯rɪŋ], das; [s] <englisch> (organisierte Nutzung eines Autos von mehreren Personen) … Die deutsche Rechtschreibung
Car sharing — Autopartage Ne doit pas être confondu avec covoiturage. Voitures en autopartage à Paris L autopartage ( … Wikipédia en Français
car-sharing — UK [ˈkɑː(r) ˌʃeərɪŋ] / US [ˈkɑr ˌʃerɪŋ] noun [uncountable] British an arrangement in which a group of people travel together in one car to work or school … English dictionary
car sharing — ➡ commuting * * * … Universalium
Momo car-sharing — Official momo Car Sharing Project Logo Momo Car Sharing is an Intelligent Energy Europe (IEE) project intended to promote a sustainable mobility culture supporting various transport options aside from car ownership. It has a total budget of 2,693 … Wikipedia