5 car sharing business models in Europe

An analysis of car sharing business models in Europe was carried out as part of the STARS project. The final report will be available for download in the months to come on the STARS website.

Initial results reveal five basic types, but a huge diversity of interpretations. Despite mixed strengths and weaknesses, as well large differences in the scale and scope of operations, it is unlikely that any one model will become dominant in the near future – but ultimately some rationalisation seems inevitable.

The five business model types are:

  1. Free-floating within an operational area (e.g. Car2Go)
  2. Free-floating with pool stations (e.g. Autolib)
  3. Round trip, home zone based (e.g. Partago)
  4. Round trip, pool station based (e.g. Greenwheels)
  5. Peer-to-peer and community schemes (e.g. Drivy)



There is a bewildering amount of innovation going on in terms of how members can join schemes and how they pay to use the cars, with consumers variously tempted by the low costs and great convenience of shared cars. Schemes have been quick to capitalise on the potential of app-enabled services. Many car sharing businesses have powerful partner organisations including vehicle manufactures and major rental companies. However enduring success that also brings benefits to the wider community seems to demand partnership with city authorities, and integration with traffic management and housing policies.

The immediate future is one of further innovation, of capturing the synergistic potential of electrification, integrated urban development, and enhanced mobility. Some schemes will certainly fail or be withdrawn, for not every experimental formula will work. But in the meantime expect more growth in car sharing schemes, in their memberships, and in the cars in use. The impact of all of this on the wider automotive market and industry is the subject of the next phase of the STARS research programme.


Post written by Peter Wells, Professor of Business and Sustainability at the Centre for Automotive Industry Research (Cardiff Business School), and STARS partner.

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