Authors: Mingquan Wang, Elliot Martin, and Susan Shaheen
Date: November 15, 2011
Abstract: The rapid motorization of China raises questions about the potential for alternative mobility solutions, such carsharing (short-term auto use), in developing mega cities like Shanghai, with a population of over 17 million people. While motor vehicle demand is increasing rapidly, there are many aspects of urban transportation in Shanghai (and China more broadly) that separate it from the urban environments in which carsharing has traditionally thrived. For example, the taxi plays a much more prominent role in the transportation system of Shanghai and Beijing than it does in most North American and European cities. Carsharing has also traditionally thrived in environments in which the broader population has experience with both driving and automotive ownership, which is relatively lacking in Shanghai. To evaluate carsharing’s potential in Shanghai, the authors comparatively analyze the size and competitiveness of the taxi systems of key carsharing cities in Europe, North America, and Asia and highlight some core distinctions between Shanghai and other major cities where carsharing has thrived. To further explore the potential response of citizens to carsharing, the authors conducted a survey (N=271) of a subpopulation in Shanghai. The survey analysis shows that those interested in carsharing are younger, more likely to be educated, have longer commutes, and own fewer cars than those not interested in carsharing. Following analysis of the survey data, the authors conclude with a discussion of the implications of these results for the development of the carsharing industry in Shanghai.