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The Carsharing Economy

Barely six months have passed since our last review of car sharing yet there have been a plethora of developments since then. This week alone saw GM expand its Maven car sharing platform to accelerate the 'gig' (freelance) economy. Continuing QUBE/just-auto's series of research snapshots, this one takes another look at this blossoming market. Car sharing schemes allow us to rent cars for a short period on an ad hoc basis.

Would you share your car?

"Now, most of us would consider offering our car to a stranger as part of a car share."

Most people would consider allowing others to drive their car for a fee, according to a Ford-commissioned survey of more than 10,000 people across Europe. Once lending someone your car keys was the ultimate symbol of trust. Now, most of us would consider offering our car to a stranger as part of a car share. This is among Ford's survey findings as it set out to better understand attitudes to car sharing, and a whole range of possessions and services that form part of the growing sharing economy.

The people who share

Ford's survey showed that those most likely to share their own car for money are in Spain (up to 61 per cent), compared with Italy (up to 58 per cent), France (up to 56 per cent), UK (up to 50 per cent), and Germany (up to 48 per cent).

Men and younger people were the most likely to embrace the sharing economy, with up to 61 per cent of men prepared to offer their car for car share services, compared with 49 per cent of women. For both men and women aged 25-34 the percentage prepared to share their own car increases to 68 per cent.

Ford's GoDrive

In London, Ford has established on-demand pay-as-you-go car-sharing service GoDrive with hubs across the city, each with guaranteed parking. Ford also has partnered with CarAmigo, Belgium's first peer-to-peer car rental marketplace, and in 2015, Ford Credit ran a six-month pilot that enabled thousands of customers in the UK to rent out their cars to other drivers.

In Germany, Ford Carsharing serves small and medium-sized cities, as well as large towns. There are 176 Ford Carsharing stations, while the partnership also allows Ford Carsharing customers to use about 3,600 Flinkster vehicles.

In the US, Ford is piloting a Dynamic Shuttle service, offering employees on-demand ride sharing around its Dearborn, Michigan, campus. Ford also last year announced for SYNC 3 connectivity technology the MyBoxMan social-shipping app that enables drivers to earn money delivering packages for others.

Mercedes-Benz's private car sharing platform

"In the first quarter of 2017, Daimler's car2go rentals increased by 23 per cent to 6.2m."

Among those other carmakers promoting car sharing is Daimler. Following a pilot in Munich, Mercedes-Benz's private car sharing platform is being rolled out in other major German cities. Using the app or website, renters locate a vehicle that meets their specifications and price expectations. They are not tied to rental stations in fixed locations and can be certain of being given the exact model of car requested. Owners who rent out their vehicle, meanwhile, are able to optimise their car's rate of usage while earning some extra money. In the first quarter of 2017, Daimler's car2go rentals increased by 23 per cent to 6.2m. Worldwide, the international market leader now has over 2.3m customers in 26 locations; in Europe there are over 1.3m customers in 14 locations.

Car sharing in China

Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz Auto Finance is merging both car sharing operations in China, car2go and Car2Share. Car2go China currently operates in seven cities - Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Chengdu, Hangzhou and Chongqing. Last year, the combined registered users of both services exceeded 250,000, a 12-fold growth over the previous year.

While sharing bikes in China remains popular, running a car share business is altogether more expensive especially for start-ups. A report in the China Daily newspaper indicated that high cost, low fees and a limited user base are among the factors providing headwinds for mobility start-ups in China. The report said that Chinese companies in the car time-sharing business are facing the risk of insufficient cash flow as they take on debts to install vehicle fleets. Strategy&, a subsidiary of PricewaterhouseCoopers, noted in a report that "almost all car ride providers' books remain in the red, with each car losing 50 to 120 yuan a day," in its recent research report, the China Daily said. However, long-term prospects for car share firms in China are forecast to be bright following a period of industrial restructuring and consolidation, the China Daily noted.

PSA Group's car sharing push

PSA Group's car sharing scheme triggered the first phase of its 'Push to Pass' to the sale of cars in the US. The group's launch of mobility services in North America came through Free2Move, its mobility brand and its partner Travelcar, a start-up founded in 2012. On 3 April 2017, the car sharing service for travellers became available in Los Angeles airport before a larger deployment in the US.

Volvo Cars' new shared mobility business unit

Earlier this year, Volvo Cars divulged plans to set up a new shared mobility business unit as part of a broad expansion of its car sharing and mobility services strategy. The new business unit will be based around Sunfleet, which has been operated by Volvo since 1998. Based in Sweden, Sunfleet has around 50,000 subscribers generating some 250,000 transactions in about 50 Swedish towns and cities.

Audi partners with Zoomcar

India car share firm Zoomcar recently announced a partnership with Audi. Zoomcar customers can now book an Audi Q3 in Bangalore, Mumbai, Pune, and Kolkata via an app or website. For example, an Audi Q3 can be rented for 240 Indian Rupees per hour (equivalent to just over 3 Euros) and this includes fuel, insurance, taxes, and roadside assistance. Mahindra Electric is also partnering with Zoomcar to promote the concept of shared mobility of electric cars in India.

GM's Maven expands

Last year, GM divulged it will partner with Lyft rival Uber to provide drivers with GM vehicles under its Maven car share umbrella. GM stated that Maven, General Motors' personal mobility brand, and Uber will team up "to provide people who want to drive and earn money on the Uber platform the option to lease qualified vehicles by the week or longer at discounted rates with no mileage limits."

We learned this week that Maven is expanding its mobility platform to accelerate the gig economy. Maven Gig drivers are provided access to vehicles they can use for independent gigs that they choose, such as package delivery, food or grocery delivery, and ridesharing. The programme is live in San Diego and will launch in San Francisco and Los Angeles later this year. Gig is the latest offering within Maven's line-up, alongside Maven City and Maven Express Drive for Lyft drivers, or its partnership with Uber, both of which will run alongside Gig.

The move comes at a time when more people are expected to take up freelance work. GM said it expects about 43 percent of the US workforce to work freelance by 2020. "Maven Gig is enabling freelancers to earn income through multiple sources," said Julia Steyn, vice president, General Motors Urban Mobility and Maven. "Maven is a smart, innovative platform transforming the future of shared mobility."

Car sharing will boost demand for 'bacteria free interiors', say suppliers

As car sharing gains popularity, Yangfeng Automotive Interiors (YFAI) believes that this will bring with it a demand for bacteria free interiors. "You are sharing cars with other people – do I need to own my car?" YFAI VP and general manager Europe & South Africa Jochen Heier told just-auto at its Trencín facility in Slovakia. "To make it bacteria free – it is now coming to make it commercial. How to make sure people are in the car thinking they feel good and not thinking, there are 15-20 people [already using the car], what is good and bacteria free. We can learn from other areas such as train [s] and aircraft [interiors]."

During an interview with just-auto, Dr Rose Ryntz, Vice President, Advanced Development & Material Engineering, International Automotive Components (IAC) Group explained how new automotive business models such as car sharing and alternative mobility solutions are emerging. She told us: "For the vehicle interiors, this means the development of resilient materials for vehicles used by a number of different people with different expectations. Anti-bacterial surface treatments, easy refresh of interior, enhanced IOT connections and direct and in-direct ambient heated interior surfaces (for electrical vehicles) are only few examples of interiors meeting the customer's demands for shared cars."

What does it all mean?

The consultants at BCG have conducted a study that points to the convergence of three trends - ride sharing (its rise facilitated by personal connectivity), autonomous drive and vehicle electrification - to transform the automotive industry. BCG forecasts that by 2030 some 25 per cent of miles driven in the US could be in shared self-driving electric cars.

These findings support Ford's results that up to 72 per cent of those Europeans surveyed today would use a car share service, and up to 73 per cent a parking space service.

"From cars to music to holidays, people are more prepared to share possessions and services than ever before."

"From cars to music to holidays, people are more prepared to share possessions and services than ever before. From your smartphone, you can quickly and easily borrow someone else's designer shoes, use their lawnmower, or even walk their dog," said Will Farrelly, user experience innovation, Ford Smart Mobility. "When it comes to mobility, sharing – whether through car-sharing, ride-sharing, or transporting packages for others – offers flexibility, a potentially more economical alternative, and can also help reduce congestion."

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