Car Sharing

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CARSHARING IN NORTH AMERICA:
MARKET GROWTH, CURRENT DEVELOPMENTS, AND FUTURE POTENTIAL

Susan A. Shaheen, Ph.D. Honda Distinguished Scholar in Transportation, University of California, Davis, & Policy and Behavioral Research Program Leader, California PATH University of California, Berkeley th 1357 S. 46 Street. Bldg 452; Richmond, CA 94804-4648 510-665-3483 (O); 510-665-3537 (F); sashaheen@path.berkeley.edu Adam P. Cohen Student Researcher, California PATH University of California, Berkeley 1357 S. 46th Street. Bldg 452; Richmond, CA 94804-4648 510-665-3646 (O); 510-665-3537 (F); apcohen@path.berkeley.edu and J. Darius Roberts Graduate Student Researcher, California PATH/UC Davis Campus University of California, Berkeley th 1357 S. 46 Street. Bldg 452; Richmond, CA 94804-4648 510-665-3616 (O); 510-665-3537 (F); droberts@path.berkeley.edu

Submission for the Transportation Research Board November 15, 2005

Manuscript Word Count: 7,500

Shaheen, Cohen, Roberts ABSTRACT

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Carsharing provides members access to a fleet of autos for short-term use throughout the day, reducing the need for one or more personal vehicles. Over ten years ago, carsharing operators began to appear in North America. Since 1994, a total of 40 programs have been deployed—28 are operating in 36 urban areas, and 12 are now defunct. Another four are planned to launch in the next year. This paper examines carsharing growth potential in North America, based on a survey of 26 existing organizations conducted from April to July 2005. Since the mid-1990s, the number of members and vehicles supported by carsharing in the U.S. and Canada continues to grow, despite program closures. The three largest providers in the U.S. and Canada both support 94% of the total carsharing membership. Growth potential in major metropolitan regions is estimated at 10% of individuals over the age of 21 in North America. While carsharing continues to gain popularity and market share, the authors conclude that increased carsharing education, impact evaluation, and supportive policy approaches, including mainstreaming carsharing as a transportation strategy, would aid the ongoing expansion and development of this alternative to private vehicle ownership. KEYWORDS: Carsharing, markets, policy

Shaheen, Cohen, Roberts INTRODUCTION

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Auto ownership is widespread in North America. In 2001, 92.1% of U.S. and 78.2% of Canadian households owned at least one vehicle (1, 2). Over 60% of U.S. and 36% of Canadian households owned two or more vehicles (3, 2). Not surprisingly, transportation represents the second and third largest consumer expenditures in the U.S. (19.1%) and Canada (13.66%), respectively (4, 5). With auto ownership and fuel costs rising, individuals are seeking alternatives to private vehicle ownership. Short-term auto rentals or carsharing programsthrough hourly rates and subscription-access plansprovide such an alternative, especially for individuals living in major urban areas, households with one or more vehicles, and those with access to other transportation modes, such as transit and carpooling. The principle of carsharing is simple: Individuals gain the benefits of private vehicle use without the costs and responsibilities of ownership. Instead of owning one or more vehicles, a household or business accesses a fleet of shared-use autos on an as-needed basis. Individuals gain access to vehicles by joining an organization that maintains a fleet of cars and light trucks in a network of locations. Generally, participants pay a fee each time they use a vehicle (6, 7). Carsharing became popularized in Europe in the mid- to late-1980s. At present, nearly 300,000 individuals belong to carsharing organizations worldwide. Since 1994, a total of 40 programs have been deployed in North America—28 are operating in 36 urban regions, and 12 are now defunct. Another four are planned to launch in the next year. Common goals among North American carsharing...
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