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DOE Question of the Month

07.12.17

Where can I find statistics and information about car sharing networks in the United States, specifically those that have deployed plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs)?

Carsharing networks are gaining popularity in the United States, and many carsharing programs are exploring innovative ways to incorporate PEVs into the mix. Please see below for information about carsharing networks and their benefits, including case studies of organizations working to implement or expand their carshare operations.

Background Information

For background information about Clean Cities’ involvement in carsharing networks, which are typically included under the umbrella term of “smart mobility,” we recommend you refer to the following Clean Cities Now newsletter from Winter 2017: http://www.afdc.energy.gov/uploads/publication/ccn_20_2.pdf. In particular, see the excerpts below:

Defining Smart Mobility

So what is “smart mobility”? The transportation industry uses the term to describe a systems-based approach to address the transportation challenges of today. These challenges arise from the rapid growth of urban populations, combined with the demand for individual mobility solutions, often without the use of a personal vehicle. A 2015 report (https://dupress.deloitte.com/dup-us-en/industry/public-sector/smart-mobility-trends.html) released by professional services firm Deloitte summarized smart mobility as the demand for “faster, greener, and cheaper transportation options.” Established smart mobility solutions, such as rideshare and bicycle commuting, have been supplemented in recent years by on-demand ride services (e.g., Lyft and Uber), expanded multi-modal transit (i.e., a combination of driving, public transit, biking, or walking), and the promise of more advanced connected and automated vehicles (CAVs)[…]

Capitalizing on Clean Cities’ Strengths

Clean Cities is no stranger to the transportation system efficiency strategies that have preceded more recent smart mobility solutions. In fact, many Clean Cities coalitions are already actively involved in projects that use data and technology to reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT). These include ridesharing, mass transit, active transit, multi-modal transport, teleworking, and fleet solutions—such as route optimization, driver behavior changes, and rightsizing. In 2015 alone, Clean Cities saved 26 million gasoline gallon equivalents through VMT reduction programs. In addition, these initiatives are often tied into alternative fuel initiatives. For instance, San Diego Regional Clean Cities and Eastern Pennsylvania Alliance for Clean Transportation have teamed up with local PEVcarsharing companies and other partners on efforts to install and utilize electric vehicle charging equipment.

Moving forward, Clean Cities will play a critical role in data measurement and collection, technical assistance, policy advancement, local outreach, and engaging fleets and consumers in advancing smart mobility efforts. For example, existing efforts to install telematics on fleet vehicles can be combined with CAV technology data collection to further the associated commercialization work. Many coalitions are also seeing the benefit of integrating PEV technologies with local smart mobility pilot programs and initiatives. As a result, coalitions around the country are developing stronger relationships with their state transportation agencies, metropolitan planning organizations, carsharing and ridesharing companies, and other new partners. “Across the country, we have already seen Clean Cities coalitions tap into their networks and capabilities to offer smart mobility solutions,” said Dennis A. Smith, national Clean Cities director. “Combined with the work that Clean Cities has done over the last 20+ years, the growth of smart cities efforts will transform the transportation market in the near future.”

As the above publication mentions, one of the biggest benefits from carsharing networks is reduced VMT, and thus reduced petroleum use—especially in the case of deploying PEVs in the carsharing fleet.

The University of California – Berkeley’s Transportation Sustainability Research Center has studied the benefits and growth of car sharing in North America (http://tsrc.berkeley.edu/carsharing). Please note that we cannot verify the accuracy of this resource. We have provided a summary of carsharing benefits and membership below:

“Carsharing allows people to rent cars on a short-term (hourly or daily), as-needed basis, paying only for the time they use the car and the mileage they drive. The operators of the carsharing program provide vehicle maintenance, repair, and insurance.[…]

Shared-use vehicles allow individuals to gain the benefits of using a private car without the costs and responsibilities of owning a car.  Members of a shared-use vehicle or carsharing program pick-up and return vehicles at shared use lots that are scattered throughout a particular region or concentrated at a transit station, activity or employment center.  Typically, a member makes a reservation in advance, lets him or herself into the vehicle with a personal card or key, and drives away.  When the person is done using the car, she returns the car to its home parking space, locks it, and leaves it for the next carsharer. […]

The benefits of carsharing can include:

· More careful consideration of the necessity, duration, and distance of automobile trips, resulting in decreased vehicle use and ownership.

· Greater consideration given to alternative modes, resulting in increased transit ridership, biking, and walking.

· Cost savings to individuals and employers.

· Energy savings and air quality benefits.

· Reduced parking demand at participating transit stations, member employer sites, and residential locations. 

Due to its many potential benefits, carsharing is gaining in popularity, as demonstrated by increasing North American membership.

· As of January 2014, 24 U.S. carsharing programs claimed 1,228,573 members sharing 17,179 vehicles.”

As you can see, there are a number of benefits from implementing car sharing programs, and there is a relatively large following for the service as well. This resource also includes a list of U.S. carsharing operations, including links to find more information.

You may also be interested in the Victoria Transport Policy Institute publication, Evaluating Carsharing Benefits (http://www.vtpi.org/carshare.pdf), which breaks down the various considerations involved with carsharing networks, including expenses and vehicle use as compared to other modes of transportation. Note that we cannot verify the information in this resource. This analysis concluded the following:

“Carsharing gives consumers a practical alternative to owning a personal vehicle that is driven less than about 6,000 miles (10,000 kilometres) per year. Carsharing has lower fixed costs and higher variable costs than private vehicle ownership. This price structure makes occasional use of a vehicle affordable, even to low-income households. It also gives drivers an incentive to minimize their vehicle use and rely on other travel options as much as possible. Carsharing typically reduces average vehicle use by 40-60% among drivers who rely on it, making it an important transportation demand management strategy.”

More specific information about the benefits of carsharing, as well as methods to maximize the benefits from carsharing services, is available on pages 5 through 7.

Emissions Impacts and PEV Deployment

Regarding the emissions benefits of carsharing programs, Zero- and Low-Emission Vehicles in U.S. Carsharing Fleets: Impacts of Exposure on Member Perceptions (http://tsrc.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/ZEV%20Whitepaper_FINAL_0.pdf), evaluates how implementing zero- and low-emission vehicles, including PEVs, into carsharing fleets can increase interest in these vehicle types among consumers. This publication also discusses the emissions impacts of deploying these vehicles in carsharing fleets:

“Martin and Shaheen (2011) found that the observed (due to sold vehicles) and full impact (due to sold and postponed vehicle purchases) on GHG emissions by roundtrip carsharing users was a reduction of 0.58 t to 0.84 t GHG/year per household, respectively (or a 34% to 41% decline in GHG emission reductions). They further observed a decline in VMT of 27% (observed) to 43% (full impact) overall across all households.[…]

At present, BMW, Daimler, Ford, and Toyota are among the leading major automakers deploying EVs in carsharing fleets. Other carsharing systems have incorporated plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHVs) and EVs from several manufacturers, including Toyota and Nissan, into their fleets of regular internal combustion engine vehicles. This incorporation of PHVs/EVs into shared vehicle fleets exposes this technology to a large array of potential customers that would otherwise have far less or no exposure. […]

Exposure to PHVs or EVs through carsharing has influenced customer EV perceptions to be more positive and has commensurately increased the propensity for an individual to buy an EV[..].”

Additionally, researchers from the University of Virginia and the University of Texas at Austin conducted a lifecycle analysis (http://www.caee.utexas.edu/prof/kockelman/public_html/TRB15carsharingLCA.pdf) of the emissions from implementing a carsharing program with conventional gasoline vehicles. You may find the conclusions of the study below:

“Results 31 suggest that current carsharing members reduce their average individual transportation energy use and GHG emissions by approximately 51% upon joining a carsharing organization. Collectively, these individual-level effects translate to roughly 5% savings in all household transport-related energy use and GHG emissions in the U.S. These energy and emissions savings can be primarily attributed to mode shifts and avoided travel, followed by savings in parking infrastructure demands and fuel consumption. When indirect rebound effects are accounted for (assuming travel-cost savings is then spent on other goods and services), these savings fall to as little as 3% across all U.S. households.”

You may find a table displaying the impacts of carsharing networks on travel behavior on page 7. Note that this study evaluates conventional gasoline vehicles and not alternative fuel vehicles. However, the study included the following note regarding the additional benefits from PEV carsharing fleets:

"Finally, it should be noted that this study compares a shared fleet of conventional (internal combustion engine) sedans to the average U.S. passenger vehicle’s use. With smaller, hybrid and electric vehicles growing in popularity, carsharing’s energy and GHG emissions savings will probably grow.”

Navigant Research also released a report (https://www.navigantresearch.com/research/carsharing-programs) highlighting the growth of carsharing programs, including the role that PEVs will play. Note that this report requires purchase—however, you may view sample content for free by creating an account. In particular, the publication summary states that “[a]lthough the carshare service model has been well established over the past 15 years, there have been some significant innovations in the market recently. The success of one-way carsharing services is prompting more companies to consider offering this service model. Such services can increase utilization since members can use one-way carsharing for shorter, spur of the moment trips. Automakers have entered this market with good results, building substantial membership levels in only a few years. Meanwhile, the adoption of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) in carsharing services is expected to increase as automakers promote this technology. According to Navigant Research, global carsharing services revenue is expected to grow from $1.1 billion in 2015 to $6.5 billion in 2024.” You may also find a list of “Key Industry Players,” including carshare companies, on the summary page referenced above.

Case Studies

For a Clean Cities spin on carsharing programs, please refer to the following case studies, sourced from the Winter 2017 Clean Cities Now, as well as the Alternative Fuels Data Center Case Studies database (http://www.afdc.energy.gov/case).

Clean Fuels Ohio

Clean Fuels Ohio Columbus, Ohio, is leading the charge on smart mobility to address transportation challenges. As the winner of DOT’s Smart City Challenge funding, Columbus is receiving up to $40 million from DOT and a $10 million investment from Vulcan Inc., as well as the $90 million that the city raised from private partners. In their proposal to DOT, Columbus set a vision for how technology can contribute to a more connected community. Sam Spofforth, Clean Fuels Ohio executive director, was pivotal in developing the Vulcan Inc. portion of the Smart City Challenge application. He leveraged the natural strengths of Clean Cities to bring together a diverse coalition of non-traditional stakeholders—from regional planning commissions to transportation network companies—to propose a plan that focused on fleet electrification, electrification of carsharing and other innovative mobility services, consumer PEV adoption, public electric vehicle charging, and grid decarbonization. Clean Fuels Ohio will also assist with project implementation.

To other coalitions interested in becoming involved with smart mobility solutions, Spofforth says, “Grab a seat at the table where the conversations are taking place. Use the strengths and resources that Clean Cities coalitions have to offer to make connections, develop projects, identify funding sources, and include a diversity of stakeholders. Stay focused on how all of this relates to the core mission of Clean Cities and define smart mobility broadly.”

Columbia-Willamette Clean Cities

By thinking out of the box, Portland, Oregon, is creating a culture of “complete communities” that support all forms of mobility. “The Smart City Challenge encouraged our coalition and stakeholders to be creative and experiment with the newest technologies, such as CAVs, multimodal systems, electric assist bicycles, and carshare programs,” said Brian Trice, coordinator for Columbia-Willamette Clean Cities (CWCC).

Like Clean Fuels Ohio, CWCC assisted the City of Portland—a Smart City Challenge finalist—with the Vulcan Inc. proposal. Trice participated in planning meetings and provided fleet information and infrastructure analyses. Many CWCC stakeholders were also involved in proposal development, offering programs to expand workplace charging infrastructure and accelerate PEV adoption, particularly in low-income communities. Although Portland was not awarded funds, Trice says that local Smart City Challenge partners are moving forward with a smart mobility project and believes that efforts to create diverse solutions to improve transportation efficiency will continue.

Kansas City Regional Clean Cities

Kelly Gilbert, Kansas City Regional Clean Cities program director, believes that interoperability among the first- and last-mile is a key notion of smart mobility. “We are developing a simple way for people in our region to subscribe to and use a transit, bikesharing, or carsharing program through a single payment option,” Gilbert said.

Western Washington Clean Cities (http://www.afdc.energy.gov/case/1843)

This case study details the estimated petroleum and emissions reductions that Seattle-based King County Metro Rideshare expects to experience with their EV fleet and electric vehicle supply equipment installations. During the course of their seven-year life in the commuter van program, the EVs will collectively reduce petroleum use by an estimated 218,000 gallons over prior modes of transportation. Fleet greenhouse gas emissions are estimated to be reduced by 24 metric tons per month in 2014 compared with emissions prior to the EV program.

San Diego Regional Clean Cities Coalition (http://www.afdc.energy.gov/case/543)

Learn how Car2Go launched an all-electric carsharing fleet in San Diego. The first year of the program resulted in over 5,000 electrified trips each week.

 

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