Carsharing: A study of the difference between carsharing provided by automakers and new market entrants

Lisa Holst Williams

Student thesis: Master thesis


The automotive manufacturing industry is facing severe challenges in the Western markets as commoditization is setting in along with congestion and pollution challenges. Urban dwellers are becoming more inclined to buy smaller cars, if not simply giving up ownership of cars. The recent years have seen an emergence of collaborative consumption where people share, rent and pool products, skills, and services. One of the most prominent trends emerging from col-laborative consumption is carsharing, and many different providers are currently offering car-sharing schemes. The thesis sets out to investigate two important groups of actors in the carsharing market – the automakers and the carsharing organisations (CSOs) – and how each approaches profitability and environmental sustainability in their schemes. Sustainability is a conceptual driver for car-sharing as it aims to reduce the number of cars driven and increase the efficient utilisation of the remaining vehicles. Profitability is an important business imperative, but so far the carshar-ing market has not revealed great profits. The thesis analyses six case companies, three from each group, in order to gain an understanding of the differences that may exist and provide an outlook on the future growth of the carsharing market. The case companies are analysed from a product-service system perspective (PSS). The three types of PSS (product-, use-, and result-oriented) encourage the implementation of services in the business model and a higher focus on the function delivered, rather than the sale of a product, while providing opportunities for decoupling effects and thus sustainable developments. The thesis finds that since CSOs are often in public-private partnerships with municipalities and city governments, they are not reliant on achieving large profits. For instance, much of the infrastructure surrounding the schemes is funded by the municipalities. On the other hand, au-tomakers are at this time not focusing on the profitability of their carsharing schemes either but rather focusing on the growth of the schemes and the expansion of the knowledge of carsharing. The CSOs integrate electrical vehicles in their schemes to a higher degree than the automakers, but the automakers are following suit, implying that both groups have a high degree of the decoupling effect of implementing cleaner technology. Significant differences have not been identified, but it is assumable that the CSOs will continue the course of private-public partner-ships whereas the automakers will retain private offerings.

EducationsMSc in International Business, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2013
Number of pages92