Protect the environment and save costs with CarSharing

Sharing vehicles at first glance seems efficient, but how sustainable is CarSharing really?

carsharing as a concept for the future
Image by Unsplash

March 2019

Germany's streets are overcrowded with cars, especially in the city centers, many want less traffic. In addition, that immense number of vehicles ensures strong CO2 emissions. CarSharing is one way of counteracting this and living sustainably. The fact that private cars are unused for an average of 23 hours a day makes the idea of ​​sharing vehicles extremely useful and efficient.

Which CarSharing variants are there and who are the big players?

CarSharing is not the same as CarSharing. Basically, four variants can be distinguished:

  1. based station
    There are fixed locations where customers can pick up and return the cars. Reservations make it easy to plan your trips well in advance and prices are comparatively low.
  2. Free-floating
    The cars can be picked up and put down anywhere within a clearly defined area of ​​use and the location and loan can be made by smartphone. Free-floating offers a high level of flexibility, but there is no reservation option. Furthermore, this is a more expensive option.
  3. Combined CarSharing
    Some companies offer the two variants mentioned above as a combination, so you have one-stop free-floating and station-based CarSharing to choose from.
  4. Peer-to-peer CarSharing
    Here, everyone can offer their private car for loan, organization and mediation are done through an Internet platform.

With around 2,1 million users and around 18000 vehicles, the concept is now also an issue in Germany. Free floating is particularly popular in this country, around 75% of customers use this variant. Big players are the providers Car2go (approx. 640 users) and Drivenow (approx. 000 users). With regard to the station-based variant, the provider of Deutsche Bahn Flinkster (approx. 600 users) is the largest company in Germany.

How sustainable is CarSharing?

The concept has great potential to become a sustainable solution to the current traffic problem. "A car sharing car replaces 8 to 20 private cars," says the Bundesverband CarSharing e. V. (bcs). In addition, the car models used by the suppliers have an above-average environmental balance and have lower CO2 emissions, since they are more modern, smaller, more energy-efficient and partly electrically operated.

"CarSharing allows a flexible choice of transport. This benefits above all the ecologically sensible alternatives to the car. In a bcs study, 40% of CarSharing customers report a decline in car use. 19% use bus and train more often. 14% increase more often on the bike. Even bigger are the changes in households that were able to do away with their own car thanks to CarSharing: 70% drives less car, 40% drives more buses and trains and 32% cycles more often. "

However, the concept does not always work in practice. People who would otherwise have no vehicle and thus relieve the road, now have flexible access to a car and drive more than before. Furthermore, the sharing concept provides a flexible option for locomotion for many vehicle owners, but not a complete replacement of their own car. Consequently, they keep their car and additionally use CarSharing.

A calculation by the bsc and ADAC states that CarSharing can save nearly 500 Euro per year. But only those who do not drive well benefit from a financial point of view. Although there are huge differences in running costs, it can be said that the concept pays off up to 10.000 km driven per year. In particular, if the ownership of a car is waived, as this, the mobility budget free of fixed costs (eg car insurance) can be fully utilized.


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