The first independent research regarding the impact of car sharing was conducted by the Berkeley University of California. The researchers analysed car2go, the largest North America car sharing company, during three years gathering information from 9,500 members in Canada and in the United States.
To verify car2go impact, the researchers conducted surveys and analysed car2go activity data from five cities: Calgary, Alberta; Vancouver, British Columbia; San Diego, California; Seattle, Washington; and Washington, D.C. Participants provided responses with respect to car ownership, intentions to purchase a car, vehicle miles travelled (VMT), the frequency of car2go usage and their motivation for selling or buying a private car. The researchers divided the sampled population according to their usage profile and applied the same criteria to the whole car2go member base, estimating their behaviour accordingly.
The research suggests that one-way car sharing services, where users can begin and end their trips in different locations, can reduce the number of vehicles on the roads by suppressing new purchases and encouraging members to sell their cars. In the cities analysed it is projected that each car2go car reduced 7 to 11 vehicles on the roads. This led to an estimated 28,000 fewer vehicles on the roads and which could result in a reduced parking demand. In addition, the researchers observed an average 11% decrease in the VMT for the population analysed.
There is a positive environmental effect as well. The study indicated an estimated average 10% decrease in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across the study population and a reduction of approximately 10 to 29 million VTM per city per year eliminating an average of 5.5 to 12.7 metric tons of GHG emissions per car2go vehicle per year.
The research findings indicate that car sharing services contribute to a better mobility and environment as can be seen in the following infographic:
Image Credits: City Of Sydney and Institute of Transportation Studies (Berkeley University of California)