China may be the perfect environment for car sharing and ride hailing services. Congestion is a problem in most of its cities. Getting permission to buy and park a car is a hassle. Why put yourself through all that drama when you can just drive someone else’s car whenever you want just by using an app on your smartphone?
Daimler’s Car2Go car sharing service has recently opened in Chongqing, a city of 30 million located in southwest China. In just two months, it has signed up 78,000 subscribers. The service has 400 Smart Fortwo hatchbacks available. So far, they have been rented 40,000 times, which works out to be once every 1.7 minutes.
Daimler began its Car2Go car sharing service 5 years ago. It is currently operating in 29 cities in North America and Europe. In Seattle, Car2Go also has 78,000 subscribers, but has been operating there since December 2012. Vancouver has the most Car2Go users of any city in the world — more than 108,000. It passed the 100,000 user mark in February, almost five years after Car2Go beginning operations there.
At the present time, Car2go has nearly 700,000 subscribers located in 9 US and 4 Canadian cities. In Europe, Car2Go is located in 15 cities spread across six countries, with 793,000 users.
Daimler does not have the Chinese market all to itself. Last month, LeEco — the electronics company backing Faraday Future in the US — launched an electric car sharing service called LeShare. It began with 300 electric cars in Beijing, but LeEco plans to expand to 7 cities by the end of this year. In total, it expects to have 3,000 cars in its Chinese car sharing network by that time.
Ride hailing services are also popular in China. Apple has just made a $1 billion investment in Didi Chuxing, China’s largest ride sharing service. Ride hailing eliminates the need to actually drive a car, maneuver through traffic, and find a place to park when you get to your destination. Just a tap on the screen of your smartphone brings a car to you within minutes.
For those in the US, car sharing and hide hailing are nice alternatives to getting around in cities. But in China, access to a private car is more limited than it is here and the cities are more densely packed. In that environment, having the use of a car on an as needed, just in time basis may be a smarter choice that owning a car at all. Also, China has an excellent inter-urban public transportation system, something the US refuses to consider.
Source: Green Car Reports Photo credit: Car2Go