Shared mobility in Paris
Would you give up your car and instead subscribe to a car sharing service? I got this question a few months ago from a friend living in Paris. My initial reaction was no. I like the fact that my car is my own and that it is accessible where, and when, I want it. But then I listened to my friend’s hands-on experience with car sharing.
The service he is using is called Autolib, an electric-car sharing scheme that has been operating in Paris for about a year. It simplifies his life and he absolutely loves it. There is always a car available fairly close-by and there are no more stressful, endless searches for available parking spots, as Autolib has plenty of dedicated parking spaces with charging poles. Most surprising is, perhaps, his claim that the cars are always left clean by prior users.
Last week-end I was in Paris and could see people getting in and out of the shared cars. The few vehicles I peeked into were, indeed, neat and tidy.
The fact that more than two-thirds of the world’s population is expected to live in cities by 2050 has not gone unnoticed by car manufacturers. Toyota for instance, is looking into car sharing and car-as-a-service possibilities for cities. San Francisco is one of the cities where BMW is offering its car sharing program DriveNow. It has started small, with some 70 electric vehicles in nine garages around the city. Car sharing should have a positive impact here as one-third of the city’s weekday traffic is made up of drivers looking for parking.
Common among car sharing programs is that all cars are connected and that ICT is used to track cars and convey details of their location – and of parking spaces – in real time. To be useful and convenient these services depend on smart phone applications that allow users to check the availability and location of cars and free parking spaces.
In the long run, it is not sustainable to have car parks full of unused cars all day, taking up space. I think that fifteen years from now most cars in city centers will be shared on a subscription basis. What do you think?