Car sharing struggles to challenge private owners in Germany

Car-2-Go lot. Downtown Portland, Oregon. [Michael Andersen/Flickr]

Despite a growing number of users, car sharing is not expected to displace private automobiles any time soon, causing the German government to come up with new incentives for collective models in the hopes of promoting sustainable transportation. EURACTIV Germany reports.

Around one million car drivers in Germany use the services of various car sharing providers. But personal automobiles will not be phased out by shared cars in the next few years, a recent study suggests. Research was conducted by TÜV Rheinland, an international technical service provider, Automobile Security Testing (Fahrzeugsicherheitsprüfung) and the Cologne-based consulting firm BBE Automotive.

According to BBE’s predictions, the car sharing market will double by the year 2020, if current conditions continue, reaching around 2 million users. With help from incentives policies, a permanent place in mobility portals, networking of various providers via apps, and expansion of corporate car sharing (use of company vehicle fleets by employees), the number of users could even grow to around 3 million.

Theoretically, car sharing offers enormous commercial potential: around 60 million of around 80.7 million Germans are at a “driving age”, over 18 years of age. Of these, around 75% have a driving license. But as surveys suggest, only 16% of 45 million car drivers can imagine giving up their own car and completely relying on car sharing.

Currently only 1.7% (almost 1 million) of driving license holders make use of car sharing offers. About 5% of these regularly abandon the service. More than 50% do not use the offer more than once per month and 28% are registered with multiple providers.

The BBE’s analyses also reveal that 66% continue to use their own car on the way to work. Only 34% see car sharing as a possible alternative.

The study also sought to determine the profile of an average car sharer. According to the research, 85% of current users also own bicycles, 51% do not have a car in their household, 65% are between 35 and 59, 80% have at least their A-levels, 66% have a net income of more than €3,000 and 74% are men. The car sharing target group are primarily the so-called Digital Immigrants and Digital Natives.

Over the weekend, the German government announced its intention to promote communal cars with special privileges.

A law “prioritising” car sharing automobiles is currently being fleshed out, said a spokesperson for Transportation Minister Alexander Dobrindt on Saturday (10 January) in Berlin. But the content and a concrete schedule have not yet been determined, she said.

A Frankfurter Allgemeine report referred to an internal list of the government’s planned projects. It included plans for special parking spaces – similar to those for taxis. In addition, municipalities will be able to decide whether to do away with parking fees altogether for shared cars.

The government justified these measures, indicating the particular significance of car sharing for sustainable metropolitan and regional traffic.

>>Read: Berlin approves new incentives for electric car drivers

The transportation sector is responsible for 24% of all CO2 emissions in the EU. The road sector, alone, makes up 72% of transportation emissions in Europe.

Shortly after Christmas, Dobrindt also announced his intention to make the purchase of electric cars more attractive by creating a comprehensive network of electric charging stations at highway rest stops. The government’s concrete target is to have one million electric cars on German roads by the year 2020.

Passenger cars alone are responsible for around 12% of total EU emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas.

In 2007, the EU proposed legislation setting emission performance standards for new cars, which was adopted in 2009 by the European Parliament and the EU Council of Ministers.

The Cars Regulation set the average fleet emissions to be achieved by all new cars at 130 grams of CO2 per km (g/km) by 2015 – with the target phased in from 2012.

Press articles

Subscribe to our newsletters