- Car sharing is a transportation model where individuals can rent vehicles for short periods of time.
- It can be a more affordable alternative to car ownership, especially for occasional drivers, and it’s a convenient option for people who need to travel between different parts of a city or for those who want to avoid the hassle of parking.
- This option can reduce traffic congestion and air pollution by reducing the number of cars on the road.
- You don’t have to sacrifice comfort: Many car-sharing programs offer a variety of vehicle types, from small city cars to luxury vehicles.
- Car sharing was first introduced in Switzerland in the 1940s, but it wasn’t until the 1990s that it gained widespread popularity in Europe and North America.
Attempt at a definition – or: Why are there so many terms for it?
Authors who write about the topic aren’t yet in complete agreement on how to spell the term “car sharing”: there are variants like “CarSharing”, “carsharing” or “car-sharing”, but most frequently they use “car sharing”.
Car sharing an organized and shared use of motor vehicles, a form of collaborative consumption (the borrowing and sharing of a vehicle), and part of the sharing economy. The Carsharing Association defines car sharing by its environmental and social purpose, rather than business and financial objectives, and states that it is designed for local users in support of community transit and environmental goals.
What’s the difference between car sharing and car rental?
Car sharing is a concept that was invented in the late 90s and is becoming more and more widely spread and popular. Although the principle resembles that of car rental, there are some important differences that make it more fitting for modern times.
- With car sharing, it is enough to book a car for half an hour, for example, to get from A to B in the city. Rental cars, on the other hand, are often booked on vacation and used for several days.
- Car sharing is usually done via an app, which – unlike the classic rental car provider – is available at any time of the day or night.
- The price for car sharing is determined via the duration of use and the kilometers driven, which don’t have to be specified in advance. However, costs can vary between the different providers.
Reasons to use car sharing
The popularity of car sharing is no coincidence, as there are many reasons to use this service.
- As already mentioned, car sharing makes it possible to get a car and drive off almost anytime and anywhere. Planning in advance isn’t necessary.
- It takes a long time for the cost of car sharing to be on par with buying your own car. Particularly for occasional drivers, it doesn’t make sense to pay for parking, maintenance, and insurance in addition to gas. Especially persons on a tight budget, like students, benefit the most.
- According to different studies, one car sharing vehicle can replace 8 to 20 owned cars. This leads to less traffic as well as fewer emissions and a reduction in the demand for parking spaces.
- If used among students, car sharing can promote a sense of community, as it encourages them to interact and network with peers from different disciplines and backgrounds.
- Car sharing platforms typically offer a wide range of vehicles, allowing students to choose the most suitable option for their needs, whether it’s a small car for a short trip or a larger vehicle for group outings.
Regarding studies on student usage of car sharing, research has shown that students are more likely to adopt car sharing services when they are easily accessible and well-promoted on campus. Universities and colleges can play a significant role in raising awareness of these services and encouraging their adoption.
Recommendations for students:
- Research available car sharing platforms and options in your area, as well as any promotions or discounts specifically for students.
- Familiarize yourself with the rules, regulations, and insurance policies associated with the service you choose.
- Be responsible and respectful when using shared vehicles, keeping them clean and reporting any issues to the platform.
- Plan trips in advance, and be prepared to adjust your schedule if the desired vehicle is not available.
- Encourage fellow students to use car sharing services to help promote a sustainable, eco-friendly campus culture.
Types of car sharing – Is there more than one?
Contrary to general belief, there is not just one, but several different types of car sharing benefitting different user groups and scenarios.
Station-based car sharing / Round-trip car sharing:
- This is the traditional form of car sharing, where the car is booked for a predetermined amount of time and has to be returned to the same place where it was picked up. This type of car sharing is commonly used for planned trips, errands, or outings, and users typically reserve the car in advance for a specific time period, but comparatively this model is less flexible than others.
Free-floating car sharing / One-way car sharing:
- This form of car sharing has existed for about ten years and is one of the best established. The car is booked via app and afterwards parked in a public parking lot within a certain radius. The duration of the trip can vary, and spontaneous or one-way trips are also possible. This model offers greater flexibility.
Peer-to-peer car sharing:
- Here, companies don’t act as providers but as intermediaries between private individuals sharing a car. A separate contract must be drawn up each time, which is one of the reasons why this form isn’t very popular.
Corporate car sharing:
- This type of car sharing is specifically designed for organizations, including universities and colleges. It involves a fleet of vehicles that are made available to employees or students for work-related or personal use. This model can help organizations reduce costs associated with maintaining a large fleet of vehicles and promote sustainable transportation habits.
Each model has its advantages and drawbacks, so it’s essential to consider factors such as convenience, cost, availability, and personal preferences when deciding which type to use.
- Expenses: As long as you don’t have to drive long distances regularly, car sharing is an opportunity to save money, whilst you can also enjoy the benefits of travelling by car.
- Different types of cars: You can pick a car depending on your needs each time – be it a normal-sized car for grocery shopping or a van for moving.
- Flexibility: If you spontaneously need a car in the city, chances are high there is one close by.
- Limitations: Car sharing may not be available or at least more complicated in less populated areas.
- Range: The distance you are allowed to drive is limited, as you have to stay within a certain radius of where you started. Hence, a rental car may be the better option for, say, family vacations.
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