On 25 April 2023, the Policy Learning Platform held a webinar, as part of the e-mobility series, on the topic of e-vehicle sharing systems.
Many cities are looking to both reduce the number of vehicles on their roads and the carbon emissions of the transport sector. Electric car-sharing systems can help cities and regions in meeting these policy challenges, while also providing equitable mobility options. While public transport and active mobility are key to the low-carbon transition, cars for individual trips will still need to have a role, and carsharing systems make these options available on demand, without the need for individual ownership.
00:25:21 Q&A: Free floating vs. clustering, what would you recommend to city administrations?
00:26:43 Q&A: How can policy owners influence where the mobility is located?
00:44:26 Q&A: What is the percentage of e-vehicles in your fleet?
00:45:42 Q&A: You offer the sharing platform also to private people, how do you tackle the question of insurance?
00:58:32 Q&A: People usually have private vehicles, are those vehicles assigned for work or can they also use it for private errands?
01:00:23 Q&A: Were the vehicles used across all departments?
01:01:15 Q&A: Are there reflections on reducing the number of alternative vehicles available and increasing the number of e-scooters in the future with the objective of reducing the overal number of vehicles?
01:03:14 Q&A: Which complementary policy measures could be used by urban policy makers?
01:10:29 Q&A: How important is it for policy makers that the general public understands the importance of restrictive measures?
01:15:31 Q&A: The shared vehicles are more in circulation than non-shared vehicles. But e-mobility needs time for charging. How suitable are e-vehicles for sharing?
01:21:19 Q&A: Who were the people inside of your organisation who used these vehicles and did you communicate about it to promote the idea of sharing inside other city administration and publically?
01:23:36 Q&A: Sometimes it's hard to find parking spots due to shared cars, how is the situation in other cities and do shared systems occupy a lot of space?
From this webinar, we can highlight some key insights for local and regional policy makers:
- The EU’s domestic transport emissions increased steadily from 2013 to 2019 as passenger transport and inland freight grew. Urban transport demand has continued to grow as urban populations increase, and in absolute numbers, more cars are on the road, leading to emissions and congestion.
- Vehicle sharing systems are often viewed as a way of decreasing congestion, reducing carbon emissions, and enabling equitable access to mobility options, particularly for those on low incomes, or those who are not interested in car ownership. However, vehicle-sharing systems are not inherently sustainable – it must be considered in relation to technology, business models, users, free-floating v. central hubs, etc., to ensure a sustainable contribution.
- The Interreg NWE project eHUBS has explored the development of e-mobility hubs to see if they can contribute to a reduction in emissions and congestion. The project found that while there are some positive impacts, car ownership was not reduced. Instead, shared mobility is primarily used by those who do not own a car, and may in fact encourage a shift from lower-carbon modes like public and active transport.
- While providing shared mobility is an important condition for low-carbon mobility, it provides only one part of a sustainable mobility system and should fill a specific niche within a broader policy context. Restrictive measures that limit access for private cars and reduce parking space, such as parking permits and low-emissions zones, are better at reducing congestion, though they are politically tougher to implement.
- Since most shared mobility systems are operated by private operators, there is a need to consider their role in mobility. Their primary objective is to make money, rather than to achieve policy aims. This needs to be tightly regulated; the market alone will not resolve social challenges.
- Sharing systems can be comprised of not only cars, but also scooters and bikes, and some cities are already developing integrated Mobility as a Service platforms which bring together these different mobility options to find the fastest, cheapest, and cleanest options.
- In Flanders, Belgium, Autodelen aims to support shared mobility and reduce the number of private vehicles on the road by building connections amongst stakeholders, raising awareness of the benefits of car sharing, making recommendations for improving policy, and testing new sharing methods. Flanders implements ‘Green Deals’, voluntary agreements between private partners and the Flemish government to implement green projects. Autodelen implemented a Green Deal on Shared Mobility to increase the number of people sharing vehicles.
- Several projects related to shared cars, shared bikes, charging infrastructure and awareness raising were implemented in this framework. A working group enabled discussion of the different actions, with lessons and recommendations directed towards the Flemish government to inform their policy frameworks and the design of specific support schemes for shared e-mobility.
- Autodelen noted that shared mobility is a particularly strong way to get people used to e-vehicles – they get to use them with minimal investment, thus contributing to awareness raising and education for the low-carbon transition.
- Murcia City Council, Spain, has implemented an e-bike sharing system for its employees to be able to move between municipal buildings. Eight motorbikes and three charging stations were purchased, accompanied by an ICT system where employees could book and access the vehicles. E-bikes were chosen as they take up less space, can easily navigate in busy streets and be parked outside of buildings, and are suitable for the local climate (compared to pedal bikes).
- The Murcia system has been successful and will be expanded. It was noted that specific use rules were needed, including rules on charging after use. The scheme has been communicated externally to show the public sector is taking action, and internal communication and training was provided to employees.
- Discussions revolved around the role of restrictive measures for limiting private vehicle use. Amsterdam has a strong policy mix for limiting the number of cars: high parking tariffs for those who do not live in the city, parking policies and permits, and a reduced number of parking spots. Ghent also has a low-emissions zone, reduced parking spaces, and special advantages for parking shared vehicles. In Murcia, efforts are being made to get people to park outside of the city centre and make the last-mile journey by shared or public transport. A combination of limitations to private cars and alternative transport options was viewed as optimal.
- It is important to remember the social aspect of restrictions and of sharing solutions. Mobility must be accessible to mobility-challenged people and affordable also to low-income households. Its digital tools should be user-friendly so as not to lock out fringes of the population.
- Behaviour change remains a major challenge, with a reluctance to share. Pilot actions can help to change mindsets and demonstrate the benefits of shared mobility. Early adopters are key and can act as ambassadors and case studies.
- Public authorities should take advantage of opportunities to learn from other cities and regions which have already advanced with vehicle sharing, through Interreg Europe projects and the Policy Learning Platform which can offer on-demand expert support through peer reviews and matchmakings.
Download the presentations below.