Car sharing

And in case you missed it, WaiveCar launched in Santa Monica and Venice, California…

GM has launched Maven, its car sharing service. Of course, the writing on the wall: as soon as fully autonomous vehicle technology is commercially available, Maven will go driverless.

Ford’s Credit Link announced its program that encourages sharing of vehicles among three to six people interested in collectively signing a 24-month lease of a Ford vehicle.

And in case you missed it, WaiveCar launched in Santa Monica and Venice, Calif., with a fleet of 20 compact, four-door electric cars. All you need to borrow one is a credit card, a driver’s license, and a smartphone. Rentals are made via smartphone app, and there’s no need to pick up keys—the company unlocks vehicles remotely when a user books the car, and the keys are inside.  Even more innovative, however, is WaiveCar’s business model, in which vehicles are loaned out at no charge to drivers for the first two hours. Even insurance is included for free. WaiveCar makes money because its cars are covered in advertising. The sponsor at launch is the Google-backed Oscar Health Insurance Corp.  Could this be a sign of where driverless vehicles will be going? Free rides in exchange for advertising exposure, sharing of information?  Already, studies undertaken in the US are indicating that Americans are willing to share personal information in exchange for something they consider of value. Could free rides be one these values?

Car sharing

Electric car sharing is gaining popularity in cities around the world.

Audi has launched its “Audi at Home” vehicle sharing service in San Francisco and Miami. Residents of two residential communities will be able to reserve vehicles via their smartphone for “spontaneous booking” of vehicles, each made to suit a specific set of tastes.

Electric car sharing is gaining popularity in cities around the world. In previous newsletters, we discussed the 1,000 EV car sharing project of the City of Montreal.

The City of Palermo launched its electric car sharing service a few weeks ago while in Canada, EMC initiated discussions with a car sharing leader and a municipality already known for their spirit of innovation and their commitment to a cleaner environment in order to implement a new EV car sharing model

And, at the LA Auto Show, Evercar launched its electric on-demand car sharing service.Evercar

TEI Supports SEAMlessTM Vision

The Transportation Evolution Institute has been involved in a number of sustainable mobility-related initiatives in Canada and abroad.

The Transportation Evolution Institute has been involved in a number of sustainable mobility-related initiatives in Canada and abroad. We thought we would end the year by providing readers with a brief update of some of these activities.

As many of you are aware, the Institute supports the SEAMless™ vision of mobility developed by MARCON. As a brief summary for those who are not familiar with this model, SEAMless refers to Shared, Electric, Autonomous, Multimodal mobility. In this sustainable transportation ecosystem, mobility is accessible via technology that is becoming increasingly ubiquitous. A user is presented with mobility options (including but not limited to information about cost, time of departure, time of arrival, active and non-active modes to be used, environmental footprint and level of sharing with others) enabling him/her to reach his/her destination. Travel options take into consideration the user’s set preferences (example: increased physical activity) and physical limitations (example: options may limit active mobility).

The Institute’s activities over the last few months reflect our work in promoting the SEAMless mobility model.

Electric mobility: The Institute is a staunch supporter of electrification of transportation, wherever possible. Within Canada, the Institute collaborates with Electric Mobility Canada, the national organization promoting electrification of transportation, in all its forms. The Institute also collaborates with AVERE, the European electric mobility association.

Our environmental realities and the blatant inability of internal combustion engines to help us meet our pressing environmental commitments means that electric propulsion systems charged with electricity generated increasingly through renewables is an important solution.

For Canada, it is a no-brainer. Almost 70% of Canada’s electricity is generated through renewables and thanks to utility efforts, this percentage is increasing.  Instead of importing fossil fuels and hurting the provincial trade balances, it makes strong economic sense to use electricity produced locally to power our mobility solutions. This approach supports a domestic good and the local jobs required to deliver this good to the mode of mobility.

A 2015 report from the Union of Concerned Scientists entitled “Cleaner Cars from Cradle to Grave” says that “over their lifetime, battery electric vehicles produce far less global warming pollution than their gasoline counterparts – and they’re getting cleaner.”

Car sharing: Sharing is an important part of the SEAMless Mobility model. Research has demonstrated that a shared vehicle replaces 9 to 13 individually owned vehicles. Shared, electric mobility is increasingly being encouraged by municipalities as a way of dealing with stifling congestion and pollution issues. One need only look at the efforts and plans of cities like Helsinki, Oslo, Paris and London.

The Institute collaborates with the Car Sharing Association and supports efforts of car sharing organizations to electrify their fleets. Not only is car sharing fleet electrification important in terms of immediate environmental impact, but it has the advantage of educating car sharing users about electric vehicles. In fact, research undertaken this year in the US concluded that an individual who has used an electric vehicle in car sharing mode is 43% more likely to buy an EV if a change in his/her lifestyle requires him/her to purchase a vehicle.

Research undertaken this year by some of the Institute’s members in the area of car sharing fleet electrification and discussions with car sharing fleets in Canada and abroad lead us to believe that municipal – fleet collaborations present strong opportunities for car sharing electrification.

Mobility as a Service (MaaS):  Last month’s newsletter article described the plans of the government of Finland to implement MaaS as a way of moving to a sustainable mobility model based on usership instead of ownership of mobility. It is a model that makes significant sense from the perspective of the Finnish people as well as the Finnish government. For the latter, it is an economic development policy that also helps the country better manage its expenditures while helping to meet its emissions reductions targets. For the citizens of the country who, like motorists around the world, use their vehicles on average 4% of the time, the car is generally their second greatest expense after lodging (first for home owners who choose to invest in their lodging). If the Finnish people can be presented with an integrated mobility system composed of a variety of options for moving around, a system that is convenient and easy to use, and one that costs less than vehicle ownership, why would ownership make sense?

MaaS means sharing of mobility assets. It also means true integration of multimodality. Where possible, electrification is encouraged. Shared, electric and multimodal: three of the four pillars of the SEAMless Mobility model.

A few weeks ago, Catherine Kargas was in Finland, collaborating with the Finnish government on this important step in sustainable transportation. She moderated the MaaS Summit (involving transportation, technology, transit and government stakeholders from around the world) that took place in Helsinki and represented the Institute at the MaaS Alliance meetings. We are pleased to announce that the Institute is a member of the MaaS Alliance.

Automated technology: The Finnish Government is interested in incorporating autonomous vehicle technology into MaaS: the fourth pillar of the SEAMless model.

Given its numerous benefits, the Institute is a firm supporter of automated vehicle technology. We are pleased to have contributed to the discussions at the Ontario AV Ministerial Roundtable that took place on October 29th 2015.

Over the last three years, the Institute’s members have visited the developers of this technology in Canada, the US as well as Europe. A couple of our members recently completed a tour of numerous organizations in Europe that are involved in the development and early commercialization of the technology. We are proud to report that some of these organizations will be demonstrating their capabilities at EVS29 that will take place in Montréal, June 18-22, 2016.  Don’t miss the opportunity to see and experience tomorrow’s electric mobility.

We are working on exciting projects that we hope to report on in the coming year. In the meantime, we take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a great start to 2016.

Helsinki: setting the pace for the future of mobility

Helsinki appears to have found a sustainable mobility solution that will, for all intents and purposes, eliminate the need for personal vehicle ownership.

Last year, an article in Business Insider identified the 18 most innovative cities in the world. Helsinki was one these cities and was selected for its “super innovative transit system – one that will soon have a real-time marketplace for customers to choose among transport providers and piece together the fastest or cheapest way of getting where they need to go”.

Cities around the world are facing issues of congestion (costing trillions of dollars annually) and challenges related to much-needed efforts to reduce GHG emissions.  According to a recent US study, growth in congestion is “outpacing the nation’s ability to build the roads, bridges, trains and other infrastructure to handle all these people on the move”.

Helsinki_graph2Helsinki appears to have found a sustainable mobility solution that will, for all intents and purposes, eliminate the need for personal vehicle ownership by the city’s residents because it will provide them with attractive, accessible alternatives. The goal? To get there by 2020.

The solution? Mobility as a Service (MaaS). Very simply, this is a mobility distribution model where all of a user’s transportation needs are met using a single interface and managed by a mobility service provider. Access to all modes of mobility (including but not limited to bus, tramway, metro, train, taxi, car sharing, ride sharing, bike sharing) is gained through the use of a personal smart device.

According to one of the architects of Helsinki’s new mobility system, Sampo Hietanen (ITS Finland CEO), the goal is to create sustainable customer centric transportation. The vision of this innovative “Public-Private-People partnership” is that the various modes of transportation blend to the point where boundaries between them are “blurred” or disappear completely.

Clearly, this is a system that is very technology dependent, involving the interaction between user, vehicle and environment. According to Traffic Lab, the project launched by the Finnish Ministry of Transport and Communications to promote a market in intelligent transport services, in the future, mobility “will be a service provided by companies and facilitated by the authorities”.

Helsinki-graph1
The resident-user pays a fee for mobility that reflects his/her usage. Some examples of the mobility packages are provided following.

Helsinki_table

The cost of using this shared multi-modal mobility will be less expensive than that paid by the average citizen to access such services today. That’s fantastic as there is more disposable income left in users’ pockets.

The project team undertook market research with residents and future users.  One group that was particularly researched was composed of employers offering car benefits, including company cars and parking spots, and the personnel using these company cars and parking facilities. The intent of the research was to determine interest in replacing the current transportation benefits (provided or received) in exchange for mobility credits that would be provided by employers to the accounts of the individual members of the personnel.  The research revealed that a whopping 80% of respondents indicated a willingness to try such an exchange.

What is even more interesting, but not obvious on the surface, is that this is also an economic development initiative. Finland has no automotive industry to protect and lacks domestic sources of fossil energy. The country must import both vehicles and the fuel to power them. This hurts its trade balance and creates little domestic employment.

Suppliers, managers and operators of mobility services, on the other hand, will use locals to provide the services, thereby increasing employment. Further, companies interested in entering the Finnish mobility market to provide some of these services will result in additional investment into the Finnish economy.

The use of electric propulsion will reduce dependence on fossil fuels. The increased utilization of shared multimodal mobility will not only have a positive impact on reducing congestion and GHG emissions but it will lower the number of individually owned passenger vehicles that will be imported.

Congratulations to the architects of this transportation / environmental / economic vision. Congratulations to the government of Finland for having the foresight to undertake a program that exceeded their time in office and for recognizing that what’s good for the environment is also good for the economy.

Photo: Slava2009 / Shutterstock.com

Car sharing

A recently released report by McKinsey forecasts growth of car sharing but of car sales as well.

A recently released report by McKinsey forecasts growth of car sharing but of car sales as well. While short term, this makes sense given global population growth of the middle class. Longer term, all trends point to an important decline of individual vehicle passenger sales. One of the interesting graphs in this report relates to declining vehicle ownership rates in the US.

 

Car sharing

People are abandoning car ownership in favour of car sharing.

Some interesting statistics were announced over the last month. According to one source, every vehicle that enters the car sharing market full time replaces between 4 and 6 new car sales and delays up to 7 more.

According to BMW’s DriveNow car sharing service, 38% of clients “abandon ownership”. This is consistent with statistics provided by ZipCar: 2 in 5 corporate ZipCar members (people who join a car sharing program through an affiliation with an employer) sell or avoid buying a vehicle after joining ZipCar.

Another recent study undertaken in Germany found that “61% of customers had given up their own privately owned car since signing up for car sharing services. Rather than eroding public transport use, the study also showed that car sharing services fit seamlessly into established transport options.”

“British carmaker Mini has joined the rush to solve the problem of customers abandoning car ownership in favour of car sharing, launching a scheme that effectively offers buyers the chance to offset the purchase price by renting out their vehicles.”

As it redefines itself, Ford is not only piloting car-sharing projects in numerous cities around the world, but is also getting into electric bike sharing and car swapping. In fact, the company announced that its Peer-2-Peer car sharing pilot program for 14,000 Ford Credit customers would run in six US cities. Another 12,000 customers will be participating in an equivalent program in London, UK. Ford has also announced that it is taking its autonomous-driving research efforts to the next stage (from research to advanced engineering). In a recent speech, Jim Holland, Ford vice president-vehicle component and systems engineering, stated that as cities continue to grow “car sharing in the future may not strictly be a voluntary matter”.

Meanwhile, GM’s Opel announced that Opel CarUnity “will allow drivers to rent out their cars – say, to their Facebook friends – via a dedicated Opel app for smartphones and tablet computers”. Dan Ammann, GM’s President, discussed the situation of city dwellers who rarely use cars: “It’s the last thing you should do because you buy this asset, it depreciates fairly rapidly, you use it 3% of the time, and you pay a vast amount of money to park it for the other 97% of the time”. He added that GM was looking to deliver the freedom to travel on a “sharing model”. We’re glad that the auto manufacturers are coming to the same realization as their customers (or former customers).

Vancouver is considered to be the “car sharing capital of the world”. In fact, car2go is doubling its presence in the city to 1250 vehicles, making Vancouver home to the world’s largest car2go fleet. It would be fantastic if the City of Vancouver would invest in on-street charging infrastructure that would facilitate the integration of EVs in the city’s car sharing fleets. Given Vancouver’s “green” efforts and the renewable hydroelectric energy used to power EVs in BC, the installation of charging stations should be encouraged.

In LA, a pilot car-sharing program aims to keep thousands of citizens in “poor neighbourhoods from purchasing cars of their own by providing publicly available hybrid or electric cars instead”.

In the last month, Enterprise Holdings acquired Metavera, a Toronto-based company that provides sustainable transportation technologies to customers in more than a dozen countries. The company “offers a leading car sharing system for independent operators, as well as technology solutions for fleet management and peer-to-peer car sharing”. Note that Entreprise CarShare is available in 40 cities in Canada, the UK and the US.

In a sign that bus operators are feeling the pinch of car sharing competition, Spanish bus operators on calling on a ban of BlaBlaCar, Europe’s leading car sharing platform.

Technology

Technology News from Volkswagen, Bosch, Daimler, car2go and Verizon

Volkswagen is developing a new system of robo-parking and EV charging. The “V-Charge” system will enable the car to park itself while you go about your business. The “vehicle senses obstacles, pedestrians, other cars and everything else it will need to avoid, even without the help of GPS that can go haywire in a parking garage. If you’re operating an electric vehicle like the VW e-Golf, V-Charge also hones in on an available parking spot offering automatic induction battery charging. If need be, the car will wait in a regular spot until the charge spot opens up, then move into position and start restoring the battery.” This is fantastic news for EVs as it makes EV ownership that much easier.

Meanwhile, Bosch, Daimler and car2go are launching an autonomous car-parking pilot that should make the use of car sharing even easier and more attractive.

In an effort to minimize accidents involving pedestrians (14% of all accidents), Verizon “is testing a way for pedestrians’ phones to simply talk to drivers’ phones, which will do the location sensing and deliver the warnings themselves”.