Sharing Catches On


Ford Motor Company Executive Chairman Bill Ford believes car sharing and bike sharing form a wide and open path to "real environmental progress," the kind of clean sustainable mobility that cuts carbon pollution to limit climate change.


In the company's latest sustainability report, released August 25, Ford writes, “We know climate change is real and a critical threat, and we will continue to work with leaders around the world in support of ambitious global greenhouse gas reduction targets. At the same time, we have the opportunity to make real environmental progress as we move into a world of smart vehicles and smart environments, including car sharing, multi-modal transportation and dynamic shuttles."


On a snowy Paris evening in 2008, Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp had trouble hailing a cab. So they came up with a simple idea - tap a button, get a ride.


Camp, the cofounder of StumbleUpon, and Kalanick, who had sold his Red Swoosh startup for millions in 2007, founded the ride hailing service, Uber in 2009 as UberCab. After a beta launch in May 2010, Uber's services and mobile app formally launched in San Francisco in 2011.


In the seven years since, transportation sharing services are sprouting up like dandelions after a spring rain - and growing quickly.


Now, Uber is in San Francisco and 632 other cities worldwide. Lyft... Car2go... ReachNow Ride... ZipCar... Getaround... Tesloop... Careem in the Middle East and North Africa, Didi Chuxing in China, Grab in Southeast Asia, and Ola in India... the woman-specific See Jane Go... and dozens more, offer a variety of cheaper, more environmentally-friendly ways to get around than buying a private vehicle.


An Uber driver waits in his Cadillac XTS outside a midtown Manhattan building, June 14, 2016
(Photo by Jason Lawrence) ) Creative Commons license via Flickr


Ford has expanded its business model to be both an auto and a mobility company. The company still is designing, manufacturing, marketing, financing and servicing cars, SUVs, trucks and electric vehicles. At the same time, Ford is pursuing emerging opportunities through Ford Smart Mobility, a new subsidiary formed to design, build, grow and invest in mobility services.


Ford Smart Mobility and expanding into mobility services are significant growth opportunities,” said Mark Fields, president and CEO, Ford Motor Company said, announcing the new subsidiary in March 2016. “Our plan is to quickly become part of the growing transportation services market, which already accounts for $5.4 trillion in annual revenue."


ZipCar uses point-to-point car sharing. Vehicles are located at specific places throughout a city, usually in busy neighborhoods. Users reserve a car and pick it up from that parking space, drive around paying by the minute, and bring it back to that very same parking space.


Then there's peer-to-peer car sharing services, like Getaround. Riders use their phones to search for privately owned cars nearby that have registered with the service. They enter a license and credit card. The signup is free with no monthly or annual fees, no lines or paperwork. There are thousands of cars to choose from. Rent hourly or daily, book and unlock the car with a phone. All rentals include insurance and 24/7 roadside assistance. That’s peer-to-peer car sharing.


Car sharing is attractive to customers who drive only once in a while, or would like occasional access to a different vehicle than the one they drive day-to-day. The organization renting the cars may be a commercial business or the users may be organized as a company, public agency, cooperative, or informal grouping.


Car sharing can take several forms. One is the free-floating car sharing service, like car2go and ReachNow. Members can unlock a car anywhere in the service area and drive around paying by the minute, with or without making a reservation in advance. They can leave the vehicle anywhere inside the service area.


This form of sharing is quickly gaining popularity because it's so easy. Free-floaters register and download the app; drive the car; return the car - any time and almost anywhere; Everything is included. There's only one per-minute rate. There are no hidden fees, everything is included in the price, insurance, parking, road taxes and fuel.


A ride sharing service, often called a ride hailing service, connects riders with independent drivers who work on their own time using their own cars.


The rider downloads the app to a smartphone, and so does the driver. The passenger opens the app and hails a ride, and a driver arrives in his or her own personal car, not a taxi. The app tells both where the pickup will happen, the rider tells the driver where to go, and pays via the app.


Ridesharing firms have been criticized as lacking adequate regulation, insurance, licensing and training. Uber has been banned in major cities such as Frankfurt, Barcelona, Vancouver, Buffalo and elsewhere. Opposition may come from taxi companies and public transit operators, because ridesharing services are seen as unfair and unregulated alternatives.


Then there is the luxury style of shared mobility. Tesloop service is similar to that of a plane, train or bus. In Southern California, Tesloop operates a fleet of electric Teslas that average up to 17,000 miles per vehicle, per month. Not directly affiliated with the electric automaker Tesla, Tesloop is the first service offering city-to-city shared-car transportation in Tesla cars. It combines the low cost of electric technology with the convenience of being chauffeured and enjoying complimentary amenities such as wifi, device chargers, healthy snacks and drinks, travel pillows and headphones.


Tesloop says on its blog, "Our goal is to make driving anywhere in the world free, so that people who are interested in piloting Tesloop vehicles, while ensuring an amazing travel experience for their fellow passengers, will not have to pay to travel. As autonomous car technology improves over the next three years to the point where it is safer than human drivers, we expect this to become a common reality."


Whatever form it takes, sharing vehicles is part of a larger trend of shared mobility.


'Sharing gets you further'


On Saturday the European Commission launched the 16th European Mobility Week, a flagship campaign for Mobility and Transport from September 16 to 22.


European Mobility Week 2017 has adopted the theme “Clean, shared and intelligent mobility,” and the slogan "Sharing gets you further."


At the launch event EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc said, “Shared mobility is a smart and innovative emerging model of transportation, with the potential to reduce the number of vehicles on the roads: for example, for each shared car, 15 private cars are off the road."


"But it's not only about cars," said Bulc. "We are witnessing a real spurt of shared bike systems in cities and towns across the EU. We need to ensure that the future of urban mobility is both shared and sustainable."


This year there are 48 participating countries in European Mobility Week, with a total of 2,313 cities holding all kinds of events to encourage residents to try alternatives to traditional means of transport, particularly bicycle and car sharing.


Europe is the leader in shared mobility solutions and the value of transactions in shared mobility in Europe was estimated at €5.1 billion in 2015. It is expected to exceed €100 billion in 2025. Sharing transportation not only helps people save money, but also support the EU's goals of achieving a low-emission economy.


The automotive sector employs no less than 12.6 million Europeans, who make up almost six percent of our workforce or 11 percent of EU manufacturing employment. We are also talking about over 11 million Europeans who work in the transportation, accounting almost 5 per cent of EU GDP, said EU Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič, in charge of Energy Union, at the 67th International Motor Show in Frankfurt am Main on Thursday.



EU Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič, in charge of the EU Energy Union.
(Photo by Saeima)


"Just in the past few days and weeks we've been hearing from companies like Daimler, VW, Volvo, or BMW about their ambitious stepping up their shift to electric cars," said Šefčovič. "We have also been hearing from more and more national governments who set themselves ambitious targets on the share of clean cars on their roads or cities announcing a future restriction on diesel cars altogether."


Šefčovič said, "Rolling out low and zero-emissions vehicles in Europe is critical if we are to stay competitive on the global market - and at the same time reach our climate targets. We are currently considering different possibilities on how to reach this goal in the most cost-effective and technologically neutral way."


There was a time when carsharing of electric cars seemed to be too much for the average driver to comprehend. But now there are at least three local initiatives in the Netherlands - Amber in Eindhoven, We Drive Solar in Utrecht and Hoppa in Rotterdam. And coming next month, Hyundai will start up Ioniq carsharing in Amsterdam.


From October 5, Hyundai will make 100 electric Ioniq vehicles available for the free-floating carsharing project in Amsterdam. The Ioniqs can be located, rented and opened with an app. They have a range of 280 km and can be returned to any location within the zone covered by the project.


Orange is as Orange Does


Orange Business Services, the global IT and communications company based in Paris, offers services in 220 countries, and is developing a specialty service to shared mobility providers.


Orange in June signed a contract with Careem, the Middle East and Northern Africa’s ride-hailing company, to provide network and contact center services.


In the Middle East, the fledgling Careem is the only tech unicorn, a start-up valued at more than US$1 billion.


A chauffeur-driven car-booking service, Careem was created in response to specific regional transportation challenges. For example, women in Saudi Arabia, half of the adult population, are forbidden to drive.


Careem’s customers order a car service from a digital app, and the company can manage calls from customers easily and cost effectively, regardless of where they are physically located. The customer can track the progress of their driver in real time via the Careem App and make payments automatically.


At the start of operations in 2013, Careem opened in a new city every three months. Today, by using the Orange Business Services flexible IP network with a digital call center solution, the company can open up in a new city in just one day.


Now Careem is rolling out its services across key markets of the Gulf Cooperation Council, as well as in Egypt and Jordan. The Orange contact center solution enables Careem to reduce fixed voice costs and route calls.


The company started with two call center agents and now has more than 400 agents managing over 10,000 calls a day from more than 80 cities across 13 countries in the region.


The three-year contract includes network services among Careem’s corporate offices in Cairo, Dubai and Paris.


Luc Serviant, vice president, Middle East and Africa, Orange Business Services, said, “Careem is an outstanding example of a visionary company that is transforming and disrupting an entire industry. … "We are now moving toward developing a global relationship with them to deliver additional services in the spirit of meeting their fundamental needs for speed, reliability and flexibility in each of their new global markets.”


Across Europe, Orange is helping the Hertz Corporation, one of the world's largest car rental companies, to roll out a 24/7 keyless carsharing service.


Hertz 24/7 is being offered across seven European countries: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain and the UK, using digital technology to simplify the booking system and service management, cut costs and enhance the customer experience.


The Orange IoT solution uses SIM cards embedded in vehicles to monitor their location and enable voice services to the Hertz contact center.


Fabrice Genty, senior director of Hertz's car sharing operations, said, "We are constantly evolving as a business to reflect the changing demands of our customers. Our partnership with Orange Business Services is an ideal step for us as we embrace the future and take on new digital technologies."


More Countries Start Sharing


The car-sharing network Zipcar, this month launched service in Costa Rica, the first launch in Latin America for the Avis brand.


Twenty Zipcars are now available for reservation by the hour or by the day in easily accessible locations throughout San Jose, Heredia and Alajuela. The vehicles are parked in designated spots and can be reserved in seconds on Zipcar’s mobile app.


The Zipcar Costa Rica fleet features a variety of makes and models, including a Toyota Yaris great for a weekend getaway, a Ford Figo to zip around town or a Toyota Rav 4 for a trip to the grocery store. Each reservation includes gas and insurance.


“Today’s launch in Costa Rica marks a great milestone for Zipcar,” said Zipcar President Tracey Zhen. “As our first entry into Latin America, we are pleased to welcome members in Costa Rica to our network. With each Zipcar eliminating the need for up to 13 personally-owned vehicles, we look forward to helping reduce congestion and traffic challenges within the region.



Zipcar is already present in over 500 cities and towns across Europe and North America as well as Zipcar’s expansion to Asia, with a June launch in Taiwan's capital city Taipei.


With global car sharing members forecasted to reach 23.4 million by 2024, with the Asia-Pacific region being 49 percent of that number, according to data from Navigant Research, Taipei is an ideal city for Zipcar in the region.


Uber is partnering with Yandex, the Google of Russia, to launch a new standalone company that merges their ride-sharing services to target Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, and Georgia.


The new company, called NewCo, will be 59.3 percent owned by Yandex, 36.6 percent owned by Uber, and 4.1 percent owned by employees. Uber will roll its UberEats food delivery service into the new venture.


Yandex has operated an Uber-style taxi-hailing app for years. Uber has faced stiff regulatory hurdles in Russia. Though it was allowed to continue operating in Moscow last year, it was restricted to using only licensed taxi drivers.


Combining our business with Yandex will give us a very significant stake in a new company which will initially serve more than 35 million trips each month and operate in an incredible 127 cities in six countries across the region,” explained Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty, Uber’s head for EMEA, in an email sent to employees.


The new company will be headed up by Tigran Khudaverdyan, who currently serves as the CEO of Yandex.Taxi and will utilize Yandex’s existing technologies, such as maps and navigation.


Riders will be able to use both Yandex and Uber apps, but the driver apps will be integrated, “leading to shorter passenger wait times, increased driver utilization rates, and higher service reliability,” according to a Yandex statement.


The announcement resembles a move Uber made in China last year, when it chose to be absorbed by local e-taxi giant Didi Chuxing in a $35 billion deal rather than continue to hemorrhage cash in its efforts to win the local market.


Take a Bike, Leave a Bike


First established in Amsterdam in 1965, public bikesharing has recently taken center stage due to the rapid expansion of bikesharing systems into new locations, and the scale of their operations.


In 2005, there were only 74 bikesharing systems in the world. Today, there are more than 770, with over 60 located in the United States.


Bikesharing comes in multiple forms. Public bikesharing allows users to take short point-to-point trips using a fleet of public bikes distributed throughout a community.


Closed community bikesharing, found on college campuses, has closed membership, and offers mainly round trips.


Peer-to-peer bikesharing allows users to rent or borrow bikes hourly or daily from individuals or bike rental shops.


Nice Ride Minnesota, which originally launched in 2010 as one of the first U.S. bikeshare programs, recently announced its plans to transition to a dockless system that uses GPS and on-bike tech to track and rent bikes instead of docking stations and kiosks, writes By Tim Frisbie on the Shared-Use Mobility Center website.


“Over the last six months, the bikeshare industry has changed and grown at levels exceeding our highest expectations,” said Nice Ride in its Request for Proposal. “The turning point was the introduction of a new business model of bikes that don’t need docking stations…These dockless bikes are less expensive to deploy and maintain than station-based bikes, offering consumers both convenience and lower costs.”


While other cities such as Seattle have opened up their streets to dockless bikeshare providers like Bluegogo, Spin and Limebike, the Twin Cities is one of the first with a functioning, dock-based bikeshare system to do so, explains Frisbie.


In China, the dockless bikesharing boom has resulted in more than 16 million shared bicycles and 70-plus operators backed by more than $1 billion in financing. But the dockless model has led to abuses, including stolen, damaged and discarded bikes.


According to the everything-bikes website Icebike, of the top eight bike-sharing cities in the world, three are in China - in Hangzhou, Taiyuan and Shanghai.


The city of Hangzhou, with a population of around seven million, has the world’s largest bike share program with up to 78,000 bicycles in their program at some 2,700 stations.



Bike sharing station in Hangzhou, China, June 29, 2015
(Photo by Clyde Bentley) Creative Commons license via Flickr


Because of a big government investment in the Hangzhou Public Transport Corporation, the company says it will have 175,000 bikes by 2020.


Paris, France has the world's third largest bike-sharing program. Called Vélib’, it is the largest bike share outside of China, with around 27,000 bikes and over 1,800 stations across the city.


Number five is London, England, which used Vélib’ as a model.  The program started with only 5,000 Barclays bikes, but now they have over 11,000 bikes, sometimes affectionately called “Boris Bikes” after former London mayor Boris Johnson and have nearly 750 stations.


In sixth place is New York City, one of the first places in the United States to adapt a big bike share program. While the fleet, numbering at around 6,000 bikes and 330 stations, is nowhere near the size seen in Paris and many Chinese cities, New York has the largest bike share in the United States, though it started just four years ago.


Like Paris, New York's Citi Bikes have had problems with vandalism and theft.


Number seven is Barcelona, Spain. Bicing, the Barcelona bike share program, has been generally well received. But critics have blasted Bicing for being inaccessible, and the system is deliberately designed to be prevent tourists from using the bikes.


In eighth place is wintry Montreal, Canada. This bike share consists of around 5,200 bikes and 460 stations. Small in comparison to other bike shares on this list, Bixi’s annual ridership is high - over three million.


Across the mobility spectrum, a combination of necessity and convenience is pushing rapid acceptance of the old saying, “Share and share alike.”


By Sunny Lewis – Environment News Service