North American Carsharing: A Ten-Year Retrospective


Authors: Susan Shaheen, Adam Cohen, and Melissa Chung

Date: May 01, 2009

Abstract: Carsharing (or short-term auto use) organizations provide members access to a fleet of shared vehicles on an hourly basis, reducing the need for private vehicle ownership. Since 1994, 50 carsharing programs have been deployed in North America—33 are operational and 17 defunct. As of July 1, 2008, there were 14 active programs in Canada and 19 in the United States, with approximately 319,000 carsharing members sharing more than 7,500 vehicles in North America. Another six programs were planned for launching in North America by January 2009. The four largest providers in the United States and Canada support 99% and 95.2% of total membership, respectively. A 10-year retrospective examines North America’s carsharing evolution from initial market entry and experimentation (1994 to mid-2002) to growth and marketdiversification (mid-2002 to late 2007) to commercial mainstreaming (late 2007 to present). This evolution includes increased competition, new market entrants, program consolidation, increased market diversification,capital investment, technological advancement, and greater interoperator collaboration. Ongoing growth and competition are forecast. Rising fuel costs and increased awareness of climate change likely will facilitate this expansion.

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May 1, 2009