Two reports from market research firms Berg Insight and Frost and Sullivan published coincidentally today are both forecasting 26 million users of carsharing services worldwide in 2020.
According to Berg Insight, the number of users has grown from 4.8 million worldwide at the end of 2014 (100,000 operated cars) to an estimated 6.5 million (with 123,000 cars) at the end of 2015. It is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 32.0 percent until 2020 when the total carsharing fleet will then reach 450,000 cars.
Roundtrip rental versus Free floating services
Today, most Carsharing Operators (CSOs) use station-based networks offering roundtrip rental. This operational model requires users to return a vehicle to the same station from which it was accessed. Some CSOs have also started to offer one-way carsharing that enables users to return the car to any station operated by the CSO.
“Another model that is rapidly gaining users is free floating carsharing, which enables members to pick up and drop off cars anywhere within a designated areaâ€?, said AndrÃ© Malm, Senior Analyst, Berg Insight.
He adds that the ability to access available cars instantly without prior booking or need to schedule return time make this type of service very attractive. “Free floating services are now available in 12 countries and 43 cities in Europe and North America, with a combined fleet of about 20,000 cars and roughly 2.0 million members at the end of 2015â€?, said Mr Malm.
Carsharing Operators Move to Smartphone-based Car Access Systems
At the technology level, Frost & Sullivan expects that in the next three to seven years, the market will move away from off-the-shelf technologies toward open source software, plug and play systems and smartphone-based near field communications/ Bluetooth low energy (NFC/BLE) technologies.
“NFC based technologies are being incorporated as a basic standard in smartphones by the majority of the smartphone makers. This will unearth opportunities for cost-effective, smartphone-based remote vehicle control solutions,â€? said Frost & Sullivan analyst Albert Geraldine Priya.