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Car sharing is more in demand than the classic one-person-one-car model. Car sharing is considered an important component of the traffic turnaround, which has experienced a boom in recent years. Vehicles ranging from small cars to vans can be rented for hours, days, weeks or months. Providers such as Share Now, MILES, WeShare, book-n-drive Sixt Share and many others offer station-based or free-floating car sharing in a steadily growing market. They put additional cars on the road to make private cars obsolete.
This has its advantages: The providers’ fleet is constantly renewed, their vehicles are regularly updated, they are used efficiently, and they don’t sit around on the road for an average of 23 hours like private cars do. Depending on the size of the organization, an average of 15 to 20 users share one car. This saves space, especially in narrow inner cities, and car sharing also helps protect the environment. Because the participants usually change their driving behavior and borrow a car primarily for transportation and for medium and long distances, the overall traffic and thus also the environmental impact from noise and exhaust fumes is reduced.
The industry association Bundesverband Carsharing e.V. (BCS) calculates that around 80 percent of car sharing users would therefore do without their own car. This is because they are flexible and can choose freely from the provider’s range of vehicles: for example, a small car on Monday, a van on Wednesday for shopping at the hardware store, and a roadster for the weekend excursion. But many car-sharing companies in Germany have currently reached their growth limits. What is the reason for this?
Regulation limits the potential of car sharing services
The Federal Car sharing Act (CsgG), which was set up in 2017 explicitly to promote car sharing vehicles, allows Germany’s municipalities to grant parking privileges. Local road authorities are given the option of designating separate parking areas for car sharing vehicles and exempting them from parking fees. Car sharing providers that operate station-based will also be allowed to relocate parking spaces at selected locations to ‘public traffic areas’ as part of a competitive selection process. Aspects such as interconnectivity with public transport and climate protection will be taken into account in the selection process.
Laws such as the CsgG and also the Electromobility Act, which provides for preferential treatment of electric vehicles in road traffic, make sense and should be applied across the board, finds Nora Goette, Lead PR & Public Affairs at MILES Mobility. The company sees challenges in the following areas, among others:
- Federalism and bureaucracy: Currently, each municipality decides more or less on its own what conditions it wants to offer car sharing providers. This, together with lengthy bureaucratic processes and a lack of areas of responsibility, makes it difficult for small and large companies to expand and develop. The company would like to see more sharing and cooperation.
- Parking: There is no need for subsidies, but for equal rights for car sharing providers. Especially for providers who work with free-floating systems, flat-rate parking fees and thus equal treatment of private and sharing cars would be desirable. Some cities such as Hamburg and Munich are already doing a good job of this; Berlin, on the other hand, charges car-sharing providers by the minute.
While some cities such as Hamburg and Munich are openly positioning themselves towards the transport component of car sharing and are using the Car sharing Act (CsgG) to promote innovative, environmentally and climate-friendly mobility solutions, car sharing in Berlin will be more strongly regulated with the amended Berlin Road Act towards 2022/23.
This is because not all cities have been satisfied with the providers’ offerings to date. This can have severe economic consequences for the business models of many providers. Recently, therefore, several car sharing representatives called on politicians to tackle a national development plan for car sharing and to set appropriate framework conditions within four years: Sharing should become the new guiding principle for motorized individual transport.