Car sharing set to reduce dependency on privately owned vehicles

By Peter Damen, Level 5 Design

Car sharing has the potential to make a major contribution in the transition away from Australian’s dependence on private cars. Using private cars is one of the most carbon intensive ways to get around and car sharing will increasingly become important for a nation that is edging progressively closer to accepting the benefits of partially and conditionally automated vehicles. Car sharing can be an effective part of the overall solution to improve the liveability of our cities that is likely to include electric, connected and automated technologies and other ride sharing and car subscription models.

One car share vehicle has the potential to replace between 7 – 13 privately owned cars and the parking spaces that go with them. The typical car share user travels 50% less than the driver of a privately owned vehicle, and often uses other more sustainable methods of transportation such as public transport, cycling and walking.

The cost of owning and driving a car is continuing to escalate. The latest analysis by the Australian Automobile Association (Transport Affordability Index Sep 2018) has found that the average Australian metropolitan family spends $18,221 a year on transport costs — up 4.2% on the previous year. The analysis found transport costs now represent 14.4 per cent of city family annual expenses.

With the cost of owning a car becoming increasingly expensive, car sharing can help to eliminate many of these costs and ensure that people only pay for what they use. The benefits from not providing as much parking, which is often considerably underutilised, are also significant.

The City of Port Phillip in Victoria have been conducting studies on car sharing and have found that every dollar spent on car sharing returns $2.43 in quantifiable benefits to the community. They also estimated that there are approximately 1,000 fewer vehicles on the City’s roads today due to the 1,000 car share vehicles within its jurisdiction.

Victoria isn’t the only state to highlight the benefits of car sharing. The City of Sydney in NSW found that the benefits that car share provides outweigh the costs by a ratio of 19 to 1! This proves just how effective car sharing can be when local government actively promotes it.

The most attractive places in our cities are walkable, bikeable and public transport friendly. Car sharing can complement these forms of transport and will provide a range of benefits in our increasingly densely populated cities, where it is more cost effective to use a car sharing service in place of owning a second car!

Car sharing is growing in popularity, but many people are still unaware of its benefits and aren’t quite sure how it works. Is it expensive? Do you pay for petrol? What happens when you’re done with the car? What about insurance? These are all relevant questions that can be easily answered if people have the right information.

The first important piece of information to know about car sharing is that it is a form of car rental but it differs from the traditional car rental approach typically used in Australia (Hertz, Avis, etc.) It is designed for convenience, and it generally appeals to people who need to use a vehicle for only short periods of time (a few hours) and want to pay for what they use as they go. It allows access to a car at any time, and in some instances with no prior booking. It can provide access to a wide range and type of vehicles from sedans through to wagons, SUVs and utes.

So, how does it work? First, you need to find out what car sharing operators you are close to. The leading companies for car sharing in Australia are Flexicar, GreenShareCar and GoGet and all work off a similar approach of picking a plan (how many hours you want to drive), booking your car and then driving away!

Shared cars tend to come fully packaged with insurance, registration, fuel, maintenance, servicing, cleaning, etc. so there is a lot less to pay for and to worry about.

There are several different types of car sharing approaches:

  1. Business to customer – this is where a commercial operator provides a service to the public:
    1. Free floating – vehicles are freely distributed within a defined area, e.g. a central business district. Customers can pick up the closest vehicle that is available on the street and return it to anywhere in the defined area when they are done. These services are very flexible and are good for one-way trips.
    2. Return to base / stationary – vehicles are booked and picked up at a defined station location for a specific period of time. These services are great for longer and planned trips. A variation is where the commercial provider allows pick up and drop off at different stations within a region.
  2. Peer-to-peer – this is where private car owners make their vehicles available to other members of the car sharing network to rent. Vehicles must be picked up and returned to a predefined location, i.e. it is a stationary service. A great home grown Australian example is CarNextDoor.
  3. Business to business – this is where a commercial service is provided to a business to satisfy their fleet vehicle requirements. An example is the provision of pool cars for staff.
  4. Mixed service – this is where a commercial operator provides the same vehicles for both business and public use or between one defined area and another.

Other benefits of car sharing include:

  • Choice of a range of different types of vehicles
  • Vehicles located in the most convenient and accessible locations
  • 24/7 access to late model vehicles with good safety features
  • Flexible rental hire periods and membership packages
  • Convenient self-service mobile bookings
  • Smart vehicle access

For car sharing to really take off, the driving and sharing culture in Australia does need to change. When it comes to our cars, we seem to prefer the privacy and intimacy of our own vehicle, and sharing, whether it be hiring out your own car or making use of a car driven by others, challenges these norms. As a nation we are becoming less attached to the places and items that we depend on, and over time this will include our privately owned vehicles.

What would convince you to try out car sharing?

This article originally appeared on the Level 5 Design blog – click here to see the original article.


About the Author:

Peter Damen is the Principal and Chief Executive Officer of Level 5 Design Pty Ltd. Peter is responsible for leading all activities of the company from strategy through planning, design and implementation. He believes that innovation is the key to Australia’s future – in making better investment decisions and accomplishing more for the community.

Peter is considered a national and international expert in emerging transport technologies, automated vehicles, parking and traffic management and operations, road safety and future transport planning. He is a qualified civil engineer with over 25 years’ experience in the industry including both government and the private sector. He has been involved in some of Australia’s largest transport infrastructure projects and he has an industry network that extends across the globe.

Prior to establishing Level 5 Design, Peter was instrumental in establishing the Australia and New Zealand Driverless Vehicle Initiative (ADVI), to address the challenges and future requirements of emerging connected and automated vehicle technologies in Australia and NZ. He went on to become the inaugural Chair of that national peak body.

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