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Does Car-Sharing Reduce Car Ownership? Empirical Evidence from Germany

Kolleck, Aaron

FG Internet Network Architectures (INET)

The sharing economy is making its way into our everyday lives. One of its business models, car-sharing, has become highly popular. Can it help us increase our sustainability? Besides emissions and vehicle miles traveled, one key aspect in the assessment regards the effect of car-sharing on car ownership. Previous studies investigating this effect have relied almost exclusively on surveys and come to very heterogeneous results, partly suggesting spectacular substitution rates between shared and private cars. This study empirically explores the impact of car-sharing on noncorporate car ownership and car markets in 35 large German cities. The analysis draws on publicly available data for the years 2012, 2013, 2015, and 2017, including, among others, the number of shared cars per operating mode (free-floating and station-based) and the number of cars owned and registered by private individuals (i.e., excluding company cars). We find that one additional station-based car is associated with a reduction of about nine private cars. We do not find a statistically significant relation between car ownership and free-floating car-sharing. Neither type of car-sharing appears to impact the markets for used and new cars significantly. Given the measurable impacts on car ownership levels, this result is surprising and invites future research to study car-sharing’s impact on the dynamics of car markets.