By Sam Zaid, CEO of Getaround 

The Business of Mobility is a series of articles penned by business leaders in sustainable mobility.  

Today, Getaround describes how its shared mobility business is contributing to reducing traffic congestion and pollution by making sharing cars superior to owning them.

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Founded in 2009, Getaround acquired the biggest European car sharing player, Drivy, and the Norwegian car sharing pioneer Nabobil in 2019 to form a global mobility company. Getaround’s cars can now be booked on-demand 24/7 in more than 850 cities in eight countries around the world, and serve millions.

Getaround CEO and co-founder Sam Zaid believes car sharing will become the standard means of automobile transport in the coming years, eventually replacing individual car ownership altogether.

The opportunity

Cars, and society’s reliance on them, are one of the biggest problems in our world today. Cited as a high-priority issue at COP26 in November 2021, road transport accounts for over 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, the average car sits parked 95% of the time, congesting cities and streets with unused resources that have already incurred heavy production costs.

Still, billions of people rely on cars for their everyday or occasional mobility needs. So instead of banning cars, sharing these valuable and existing assets is the smarter, more viable solution. Car sharing and technology grant us the opportunity not only to preserve the quality of life that convenient access to cars offers, but also address the urgent environmental need to limit the impact of the car industry. 

A 100% flexible and connected solution

Owning a car comes with burdens – insurance, maintenance, parking, and the depreciating value of the car itself. As a fully digital car sharing experience, Getaround gives you instant access to cars when and where you want them, making it a cost-effective and convenient alternative to owning one. From finding a car nearby to booking and unlocking it, Getaround Connect gives users the power to unlock the car using the Getaround app on their smartphone because of our telematic technology installed directly into the car.

Unlike traditional car rental services, there are no more agency hours to worry about, queues to wait in, forms to fill in, or out-of-the-way locations to travel to. As a marketplace, Getaround cars are located right in your neighbourhood. You can book a city car, utility van, or any car type you need in three minutes on your phone, pick it up around the corner, and spend your time on the things that really matter.

For car owners, sharing their car helps offset the cost of ownership, generating additional income every month. Some owners even capitalise on growing demand to develop their own car sharing business, taking advantage of Getaround’s dedicated Power Hosts and Entrepreneurs Programs, which help them identify opportunities in their market. 

The Getaround Connect device automatically measures the mileage and fuel level for each rental, and informs the owner if maintenance on their car is required. It’s also equipped with an immobiliser, keeping the car secure and preventing it from starting if it wasn’t unlocked by the user with the Getaround app.

This game-changing patented technology makes booking and sharing cars more convenient and efficient than the traditional car rental model, providing more freedom, flexibility, and peace of mind to both sides of the marketplace.

Proven positive impact

With the adoption of car sharing increasing every year – for example, a recent report estimated that the peer-to-peer car sharing market alone will grow at least 21% CAGR to an estimated value of US$7.2 billion in the next eight years (Prescient & Strategic Intelligence Private Limited report) – studying its positive impact on the environment and mobility habits of people who use car sharing is of interest not only to the mobility sector, but also to public planners looking to build the cities of the future.

In several studies, it’s been observed that car sharing services such as Getaround play an instrumental role in the demotorisation of cities, removing privately-owned cars from the road. Car sharing also encourages more responsible mobility habits: people with access to car sharing tend to drive less, and instead, walk, bike, or use public transport more, using a car only when they really need to.

Getaround’s direct impact was more clearly shown in a study conducted by agency 6-t in France in November 2019. The report showed that every connected car shared on Getaround replaces more than four privately owned cars, and estimated that Getaround had already contributed to the removal of over 17,000 cars in France. The study went on to calculate that by removing these cars, Getaround helped reduce the total kilometres driven in France by 53 million km annually, which amounts to roughly 6000 metric tons of avoided CO2 emissions.

In addition to reducing the harmful environmental impact of cars, connected car sharing has the benefit of improving quality of life in our cities. Fewer cars on the road means less traffic and congestion, making it easier to get where you’re going, but also relieving cities of the obligation to design infrastructure devoted to automobiles. With more cars being shared and fewer cars left parked, cities can reduce the amount of space needed for parking to free up precious real estate for more sustainable and virtuous uses, from green spaces to pedestrian paths.

Partnering for more sustainable mobility

The democratisation of car sharing can only truly be possible with the support of powerful stakeholders and decision-makers as society makes this critical transition towards a more collaborative and sustainable transport model.

I’m optimistic that this transition is already happening. Many cities understand the value that car sharing brings to their communities, already integrating car sharing into their mobility ecosystems. At Getaround, we’ve entered into partnerships with major cities across the US and Europe, such as San Francisco, Boston, Paris, Brussels, and Marseille, and are continue to expand these programmes. Specifically, they aim to embed car sharing within the urban landscape through the allocation of dedicated on-street parking spots to Getaround cars in high-traffic areas and transport hubs, such as city centres and railway stations.

These car sharing programmes create a virtuous circle that point to a bright future for car sharing. Strategic parking locations give millions of potential users easy access to shared cars in their neighbourhoods, while generating visibility for car sharing as a convenient on-demand mobility solution. So far, we’ve seen promising performances from these programmes, with high user adoption rates and car occupancy levels, which I hope encourage other cities to join the movement.

As more people gain access to on-demand cars, our relationship with the automobile is changing. The desire to own a car is no longer a given, which poses a challenge to car manufacturers and their business models. Some OEMs are well aware of these shifting attitudes and are already investing in car sharing innovations. Getaround is in advanced discussions with several manufacturers to integrate our digital car sharing technology in the cars themselves. In future, cars could come off the assembly line ready to be shared on Getaround.

The future of car sharing

More than a decade after we started Getaround, I remain focused on the road ahead, and all signs look promising. 

Cities, auto manufacturers, fleet owners, and city dwellers are increasingly recognising the benefits and opportunities that car sharing offers, especially with the global move towards more sustainable forms of transport.

Getaround has also publicly committed to act in favour of greener mobility: in 2021, we announced that we will cease accepting ICE cars to the Getaround platform from 2030, with the ultimate goal of being a fully electric platform by 2040.

We continue to collaborate with all stakeholders to further develop the infrastructure needed for a long-term model of urban mobility where car sharing plays an intrinsic role. 

Together, we have the keys to build the smart, sustainable cities of the future. And every day, we’re getting closer to realising the Getaround vision of a world where all cars are shared.