Rapid growth in Dutch car sharing continues

A rapidly increasing number of Dutch people regard car sharing as a good solution. That's according to the annual "Car Sharing Monitor" of the CROW-KpVV knowledge platform. The number of users grew by 42 percent in one year, from 515,000 users in 2019 to 730,000 car sharers in 730,000. And these figures are not influenced by a possible "coronavirus effect", says Martien Das, consultant on Green Deal: Car Sharing at Rijkswaterstaat, the executive agency of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management.

"The annual review date was in March 2020, before the lockdown," says Das, who is very pleased with the rapid growth. With those 730,000 shared car users, we have already surpassed the target of the Green Deal: Car Sharing II – 700,000 users by 2021.” The Green Deal: Car Sharing II (www.greendeals.nl/green-deals/green-deal-autodelen-ii) will run until 2021 and will be the focus of continued attention in the "Everyone can do their bit" campaign. The Green Deal in car sharing is a collaboration between public and private sector organisations, intended to accelerate the growth of car sharing.

Signals at green

What exactly the "coronavirus effect" will be on car sharing is not yet known. To Das it is clear that all signals are green for shared mobility. "There was less use for a few weeks at the beginning of the lockdown but demand soon recovered and growth continued. This is also evident from additional surveys of suppliers of shared cars. Only business car sharing has not yet returned to pre-lockdown levels."

Many people had to change their travel behaviour because of the coronavirus measures. This led, among other things, to a strong growth in cycling and less public transport use. Martien Das: "To what extent this behavioural change is permanent, we don't yet know. But the fact is that, as a result of the debates surrounding the use of public space, new building plans and the climate agreement, car sharing is regarded by more and more people as a serious option."

"Owners" become "users"

The younger generation in particular attaches less value to having their own car (as a status symbol): "owners" are increasingly becoming "users". The canny individual also plays a role: anyone who, as a private car owner, tots up the fixed costs, i.e. including depreciation and possibly a parking permit, will see that (depending on their personal situation) a shared car can also be an attractive alternative from a financial point of view. Moreover, more cities are discouraging car use. Das is clear that this is another important factor. "If, for example, cities expand permit parking zones or increase the parking permit fee, this may be a reason for additional interest in car sharing." MaaS (Mobility as a Service) apps can also boost people's awareness of and access to car sharing.

Electric

Incidentally, last year the number of shared cars fell slightly short of the forecast in the Green Deal: Car Sharing II: in March 2020 there were 64,312, 13,000 more than in 2019. Even more effort will be needed to reach the target for next year, 100,000 cars by 2021. Electrification is going well, however: shared cars are increasingly electric or hybrid (8.2 percent, more than three times as many as the regular fleet); all the free-floating shared cars are electric.

The number of shared cars is seeing the most rapid increase in urban environments. Of the top 10 cities with (relatively) the most shared cars, Utrecht (5,225 shared cars per 100,000 inhabitants) is still at the top, with Amsterdam, Rijswijk and The Hague at numbers 2, 3 and 4. Rotterdam is a new entrant in the top 10, at number 9.