Drivers and barriers of households’ car-sharing decisions


R. Carmen, L. Alaerts, K Bachus, D. A. Chapman, J. Eyckmans, K Van Acker, L. Van Ootegem, and S. Rousseau

The study focuses on the main barriers and drivers in the adoption of car sharing systems in Flanders. A large-scale survey of 2106 people was used to provide a quantitative empirical assessment of household attitudes, intentions and motivations towards car sharing. Interviews with car sharing organisations provide an exploratory picture of the factors that encourage or discourage the use of car sharing.

Despite the fact that the sample is biased in favour of younger and more highly-educated people, we can draw some conclusions. The factor analysis showed that many respondents have strong opinions about cars: cars are part of their identity, and driving makes them feel good and happy. Other important factors were environmental concerns and a positive perception of public transport. These factors are relevant and significant predictors of one's intention to adopt car-sharing.

Profiling people with a high car sharing intention can be important for car sharing companies to expand their business and for governments that want to stimulate car sharing. The ordinal model showed that men, people living in urban areas and people with higher education are significantly more open to car sharing. The explanatory variable with the greatest positive effect on car sharing intention is the 'environmental concern' factor. Information campaigns about the environmental and practical benefits of car sharing can be an interesting avenue for stimulating car sharing.

Furthermore, it appears that the presence of a company car in the household is one of the biggest obstacles to a person's carpool intention, which has not yet been addressed in previous research. An obvious recommendation for policy makers who want to encourage car sharing is therefore to reduce the tax benefits for company cars. This also requires a strong regulatory framework for shared cars. Such a framework is currently underdeveloped and the rules often differ greatly between municipalities.

Nearly 40% of respondents stated that they would be more willing to use shared cars if they offered significant parking benefits over private cars. The practice of some cities of reserving fixed parking spaces for car sharing and/or allowing parking permits for car sharing could thus be generalised.

The results of our survey indicate that individuals who are reluctant to share cars are often confused about various aspects of car sharing, such as cost and liability. In terms of costs, there are significant differences between the car sharing companies and their cost structures: a mix of membership fees, monthly costs, mileage costs, time costs, reservation costs, etc. This makes it difficult for the users to compare different options but also to compare car sharing with car ownership. An unbiased price comparison website and clear guidelines on responsibilities, for example in the event of an accident, can help allay potential users' worries.

An obvious barrier for people sharing cars is their unfamiliarity with the concept and the lack of car sharing in their neighbourhood. Active promotion of car sharing by local authorities through information campaigns can help overcome this hurdle. Subsidised trial subscriptions or even making the city's shared cars more visible with clearly marked parking spaces for shared cars or high-profile vehicles can also help increase awareness and build confidence.

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(*Former) Researcher Circular Economy Policy Research Centre