Car sharing industry analysis – research and statistics

 

You may have heard the term ‘car sharing’ or ‘car club’ recently. But what does it mean? The idea of car sharing is that users join a car sharing club, like Zipcar, which gives them access to a fleet of vehicles parked in strategic locations across the city. Members can hire vehicles by the minute, hour or by the day, which can be dropped off or parked in a multitude of convenient locations.

 

Car sharing is a flexible, affordable, and more sustainable alternative to car hire or ownership, and it’s on the rise in Britain – particularly in London.

 

Comoshort for Collaborative Mobility UK, works to maximise the public benefit of shared cars, bikes and rides – has worked with car club operators (including Zipcar) over the last 14 years, conducting car sharing industry analysis. Como collects data on members’ behaviour and usage, and the sustainable benefits of car clubs and their fleets to understand car sharing industry trends and publish an annual report on car club usage in Britain.

 

Como also reports specifically on the London market share of car clubs compared to the rest of the nation, to better understand how the capital is performing compared to the rest of the country. We have listed some of the most interesting car sharing statistics and findings from 2020 report below.

 

 

London car sharing statistics and facts

How are car clubs doing in the capital?

unlocking a zipcar with an app on a phone

How are car clubs doing in the capital?

Car sharing in London has proven to be popular, with a total membership reaching over half a million in 2020.

Car club membership in London

  • 189, 275 active members (those who have used a car club vehicle in the last year)
  • 550,000 total membership
  • 130% Membership growth since last report in 2018.
woman walking up to a Zipcar car sharing car

Because they have easy access to affordable and reliable public transport, Londoners are less likely than people outside the capital to require day-to-day access to a vehicle, which makes the flexibility and easily accessible nature of car sharing an attractive benefit.

Most popular reasons for car club usage in London

  • 31% carrying luggage/bulky items
  • 37% need a shorter journey time/public transport would have taken too long
  • 24% use car clubs since they can't afford to own a car.

Sustainable benefits of the car club industry

There are a multitude of sustainable benefits to car sharing as an alternative to private car ownership, including:

Reducing private car ownership

One car club car takes the place of 23.5 privately owned cars.

Carbon savings

The carbon savings for London from car club usage is equivalent to the lifetime carbon absorption of around 3,800 trees.

Electric vehicle uptake

11% of the car club fleet in London are electric vehicles, and 59% of members have used one.

Fewer emissions than the average car

25.5% less emissions, 100% of car club vehicles are ULEZ and Clean Air Zone Compliant

Data also shows that if people are using car clubs instead of owning a car, they are more likely to also turn to other sustainable modes of transport such as walking, cycling and public transport. In the last six months, 30% of respondents have cycled three times a week, which is much more frequently than average in London: 9% of people cycle one or two days per week.

 

 

Car club vs Car ownership

 

Car clubs replace privately owned cars with a smaller number of more efficiently used vehicles, freeing up space for other users.

  • 23.5 private cars are taken off the road by each car club vehicle.
  • 81,388 estimated a total of cars removed from UK roads by car clubs.

Car clubs are used by far more people per car than private cars (which means fewer cars for the population’s motorised travel needs).

  • 19% of members owned one fewer car since joining a car club.
  • 21% would have bought a car if they hadn't joined car club.

Most members stated they use car clubs 1-5 times per year, which is much more cost effective than owning a car outright.

 

 

London Vs rest of England and Wales car sharing statistics and facts

 

As London has seen a much larger uptake in car sharing than the rest of the country, it has a much bigger market share. The highest number of car sharing users live in London, and the city has seen the biggest increase since 2018 compared to the rest of England and Wales.

This is in part because of London’s large population, but also because car sharing is better suited to urban living, where the car club fleet is easily accessible, public transport is affordable and reliable, and users do not require regular access to a car. By contrast, car sharing is not as well suited to suburban and rural living, where public transport is expensive or infrequent and people often need access to a car to travel further in their day to day lives.

  • Around 87% of all car sharing club users in England and Wales live in London.
  • London car sharing club members total 550,000, compared with just 50,000 in the rest of England and Wales.
  • 23.5 private cars are replaced by each car club vehicle in London, compared with only 9 private cars replaced by each car club in the rest of England and Wales.
  • In total, 81,388 cars were removed from UK roads by London car sharing members, compared to 12,790 in the rest of England and Wales.
  • London’s car club carbon savings equate to 3800 trees, compared to 1150 trees for England and Wales.

It will be interesting to see what the future of car sharing looks like in a post-pandemic world. Will more people choose car sharing services over private ownership? And could car clubs work in more suburban and rural settings?