The aim of the WiMobil project was to investigate the effects of car-sharing systems on mobility and the environment in urban areas. In detail, the station-based car-sharing system Flinkster was compared with the free-floating provider DriveNow using the cities of Berlin and Munich as examples. The main topics of interest here were how car-sharing affects mobility behavior, how the degree of user motorisation changes, how much leverage there is for electric vehicles and what framework conditions are necessary for e-car-sharing systems in order to achieve successful integration into the urban structure. In addition, a guideline was developed, which shows a possible influence of the municipalities.
In order to generate these results, a variety of methods were used (user surveys, mobility tracking, parking space surveys, analysis of loading infrastructure utilisation, backend data evaluation, etc.). In particular, WiMobil was able to gain insights into the topics “energy and climate policy potentials”, “determining the environmental and climate policy effects of electromobility” and “research and development of charging technologies”.
A certain population group currently uses both car-sharing providers, although there are hardly any differences between Berlin and Munich. The users are predominantly highly educated men with high incomes, while the DriveNow users are younger than the Flinkster users. In terms of mobility behavior, the users of both car-sharing systems are more multimodal than comparable people who do not use car-sharing. Mobility is characterized by a regular use of public transport, which is reflected in the comparatively high subscription ownership. A private car is much rarer in households than the average for this group of people, although car ownership is lower for Flinkster users than for DriveNow.
There are differences between the systems with regard to car-sharing use. Overall, both DriveNow and Flinkster are used relatively rarely by a large proportion of users, with DriveNow being used slightly more frequently. Another difference between the car-sharing systems is in the way they are used. While Flinkster is mainly used on irregular routes such as weekend trips, longer business trips or for bulk shopping, DriveNow is often flexibly integrated into everyday mobility.
Overall, car-sharing increases users’ mobility options so that the most suitable means of transport can be selected depending on the situation and the purpose of the journey. The user surveys conducted show that car-sharing influences car ownership in different ways. For many people, car-sharing is an important reason for not owning a car in the household.
In addition, car-sharing has the potential, with better availability, to reduce current car ownership. In addition, a considerable proportion of respondents to both car-sharing systems stated that at least one car in the household had already been abolished due to car-sharing. Especially frequent users and persons who are members of both car-sharing systems (free-floating and station-based car-sharing) tend to abolish cars. An important component of this project was the investigation of the potential of electric vehicles in car-sharing and how the vehicles are accepted by customers.
It should be noted here that electric vehicles in car-sharing are the drivers of electromobility. They are used by many car-sharing customers and are therefore used to the same capacity as vehicles with internal combustion engines. The overall acceptance of e-car-sharing is very high. Many users come into contact with electric vehicles for the first time via car-sharing and can test them regularly. Above all, the driving experience is perceived positively. A short range is not a problem. The experiences with charging electric vehicles, however, are very different.
In addition, the studies have shown that electric vehicles in car-sharing form a calculable demand with regard to the charging infrastructure, especially in the city center. By the adjustable flotation of vehicles, the charging infrastructure can be built up and utilized accordingly.
With regard to land consumption, a positive balance can be drawn. Since car-sharing partly leads to the abolition of private cars, the car-sharing fleet is on average smaller than a corresponding private car fleet. At the same time, car-sharing vehicles are more heavily used and therefore park for a shorter time in public parking spaces. For the local authorities, this means that the two car-sharing systems can save space. It has been shown that car-sharing fleets mostly use vehicles with lower CO2 emissions than the German average. In addition, there are often smaller vehicles. Through the increased use of electric vehicles, these CO2 emissions can be greatly reduced once again.
In order to support local authorities in their decisions and in the design of car-sharing systems, especially in combination with charging infrastructure, WiMobil has developed a guideline containing the best practices and experiences of the City of Munich and the Senate Administration for Urban Development and Environment Berlin.