Working Paper

Success factors for electric carsharing

Using electric vehicles for carsharing can enhance the environmental benefits of such programs. This briefing details electric carsharing in Europe and North America and provides insights into charging infrastructure and best practices gleaned from successful carsharing programs.

The study finds that electric carsharing programs can reduce greenhouse gas emissions from daily travel by up to 43% per user compared to previous travel modes. In addition, electric carsharing also brings many of the benefits of conventional carsharing, such as a conservative estimated reduction in vehicle kilometers traveled per household of between 3% and 36%. Moreover, for each carsharing car, between five and 24 private car purchases were suppressed or postponed, increasing public parking space availability by similar numbers.

Incorporating electric vehicles into carsharing requires that sufficient charging infrastructure is installed to support the business model. Roundtrip station-based carsharing requires approximately one charger per car and one-way station-based charging requires 1.5 to two chargers per car. Although station-based carsharing ensures the availability of electric cars with sufficient battery level, it requires a separate charging infrastructure. One-way free-floating carsharing uses public charging with the possible addition of parking stations with charging inside a free-floating zone. The recommended minimum for charger density is seven chargers per square km equally distributed throughout the zone.

Although carsharing does not necessarily need financial support in dense urban areas, city policies designed to encourage carsharing to be electric can ensure its success. For example, in densely populated cities, parking policies for carsharing must be at least equal to those for private cars. As an enticement for electric vehicles, city parking may be given away as an in-kind contribution. For less densely populated cities and rural areas, city government will likely be required to provide financial support and aid in charger installation. Integration with public transit and other modes can also allow carsharing to be an integral part of mobility in a city.