How does car sharing want to overtake the latter?

The end of Autolib in Paris in the summer of 2018 raised the worst fears for the future of car sharing in France. Although the service has 100,000 regular users and vehicles are rented four times a day, it has never been able to break even. It got to the point where Paris city hall and the Bolloré group decided to freeze spending and find a way out for the more than 3,000 autolibs that criss-cross the capital.

“In terms of image, it wasn’t great,” says Jean-Baptiste Schmider, P-CEO of the Citiz cooperative, which brings together fourteen local players in the car exchange. Launched 20 years ago, the network has 1,750 self-service accessible vehicles deployed in 170 cities. “We are in Lyon, Grenoble or Strasbourg, but also in St. Claude (Jura) or Pelussin (Loire)”, list Jean-Baptiste Schmieder, which the mode of transport is not only intended for big cities.

Not to be confused with carpooling

Above all, Citiz is determined not to stop there. At objective-autopartage.coop, the cooperative is running a fundraising campaign until March with the goal of raising €300,000 to help deploy in 170 new cities by 2025. Léa Wester, project principal at 6t, a research firm specializing in mobility, is convinced that car sharing also has a role to play in the energy transition. “The first problem with it is that we never talk about it, and a lot of people confuse it with driving,” he notes. The difference? Carpooling involves giving other users rides in your car. Car sharing offers hourly rental vehicle sharing 24/7 through a fully digital service. This is what distinguishes it from a traditional tenancy or a lease between individuals.

This is the whole promise of car sharing: to be an alternative to the private car. This service is rarely used for commuting. “The average use of car sharing is for a trip of 5-6 hours and 50 km, the CEO of Citiz continues. It’s doing big shopping, carrying heavy loads, taking your kids for leisure, even going to the countryside for the weekend. In other words, random but regular movement is necessary.

An alternative to a private car

“And it works,” assures Léa Wester, who was able to measure this in the “Autopartage 2022” survey carried out by 6t for Ademe. “Of the 2,000 users surveyed, 70% owned a car once and no longer had a car at the time of the survey. 40% of them cite the discovery of car sharing as one of the main reasons they decided to leave their car. “Even second when there are two.

So, on average, one car-sharing vehicle replaces five to eight private cars each year. “And its users are reducing the number of kilometers they travel by an average of 1,200 km per year,” the Association of Car Sharing Players (AAA) adds in its 2022 barometer. Lea Vester confirms this other benefit of using cars: the car makes a difference. We are no longer in the reflexive use of something that belongs to us. On the contrary. For each trip, the car is systematically balanced with other mobility solutions. »

This makes a good argument for car sharing in the current context, where it is necessary to decarbonize the road networks of big cities, to fight air pollution, and to decarbonize transport, the leading gas-emitting sector. Greenhouse in France. . “If we replace the 40 million internal combustion vehicles in the current fleet with 40 million electric motors, we will not solve the problem,” recalls Jean-Baptiste Schmider.

Are the planets finally aligning?

But if carpooling has its virtues, it’s far from developed enough to be truly leveraged. nationally. For comparison, Germany has three times more subscribers of this type of service, AAA notes. However, things have gotten better in recent years. “Like car sharing, car sharing has recovered very well from Covid-19,” notes Citiz’s CEO. On January 1, 2022, 12,677 shared vehicles were deployed in 736 municipalities, compared to 11,546 and 701 municipalities a year ago. As for the number of unique users [ayant au moins utilisé un service d’autopartage dans l’année]fell from 294,000 to 323,000 in a year, almost back to pre-Covid-19 levels.

Léa Wester found it hard to imagine car sharing not continuing on this path. According to him, everything is growing there, starting with the price of the car and continuing to grow. In a report last October, the Climate Action Network put the figure at €4,210 in 2022, up from €3,680 five years ago. Added to this is the gradual introduction of low-emission zones, which has forced many French people to upgrade their cars, excluding the growing share of vehicles from the big cities. “Or to choose precisely to share a car,” says Jean-Baptiste Schmider. Even more surprisingly, Leah Wester also calls the bike boom very favorable to car sharing. “Among those who share cars, there are many cyclists who have taken this step to reduce their dependence on cars and are actually interested in other available mobility solutions,” he said.

Is support from the state expected?

But if the planets align, the Car-Sharing Actors Association wouldn’t be averse to more public support. “Development should be supported [de l’autopartage] “Economic profitability is the hardest to find in second-tier municipalities and beyond,” he writes in his 2022 barometer. “But why not also have a car-sharing bonus to encourage the French to try it,” asks Jean-Baptiste Schmider. The government just did it with the car park.

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