The Transport Research and Innovation Monitoring and Information System (TRIMIS) is the analytical support tool for the establishment and implementation of the Strategic Transport Research and Innovation Agenda (STRIA), and is the European Commission’s (EC) instrument for mapping transport technology trends, research and innovation capacities to decarbonise Europe. TRIMIS was developed by the EC's Joint Research Centre to support and monitor the implementation of the seven STRIA roadmaps. The platform provides open-access information on transport research and innovation.
A recently published report, “Research and innovation in car sharing in Europe”, provides a comprehensive analysis of R&I related to car sharing in Europe. The assessment accessed approximately 9,000 projects on the TRIMIS open-access searchable database of projects and programmes that were financed by EU research Framework Programmes, EU Member States and other countries, and followed a methodology developed by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre.
In the EU the car continues to be the most common mode of transport for frequent trips. On average, car users travel over 20 kilometres, have a journey time of 20 minutes and an occupancy rate of 1.7 persons/car. The good news is that an increasing number of European cities are improving urban living by adopting shared-car-based mobility schemes to reduce car use, traffic congestion, vehicle emissions, parking spaces, whilst at the same time, improve air quality, road safety and promote greener transport modes.
What is car sharing?
Car sharing is a membership-based self-service, short-term car access system with a network of vehicles for which members pay by time and/or distance. This usually involves accessing a car owned by another person or entity in exchange for an agreed monetary payment.
Six thematic research areas
The report critically assesses research by thematic area, and highlights recent technological and other developments, as well as future needs. The six thematic research areas into car sharing in Europe are:
- Better understanding of the impact of car sharing (economy, environmental)
- User behaviour and acceptance of car sharing schemes
- Information Technology (IT) development: apps, websites, connected cars
- Vehicle technology: electric vehicles, hybrid vehicles, ergonomics, automated vehicles
- Development and implementation
- Others: stakeholder engagement, regulations, and policies.
Key research findings
The three main findings from the research were:
- Most of the projects targeted the urban environment, which makes sense from the point of view of the industry and potential users.
- Funding support for car sharing schemes has risen in the recent years, especially through R&I projects that focused on the development of Information Technology (IT) solutions, such as apps, websites, connected cars, etc.
- Countries with significant public investment in R&I and with a substantial transport industry, as well as consultancy and IT related companies, appear to be the best placed to adopt car sharing schemes.
The report made the following recommendations for transport planners and policy makers:
- If car sharing is to be expanded across European cities, then it is clear that a standardised robust methodological approach is needed to better understand the extent and effects of car sharing on urban mobility.
- Car sharing falls under the concept of the sharing economy and has not been specifically addressed by European regulation, hence the sharing of best practice approaches and establishment of guidelines at the European level might be needed.
- Before implementing any car sharing scheme, municipalities should conduct an ex-ante analysis to understand the travel patterns of potential users. The ideal car for such schemes should be small, electric, connected and with a high degree of automation (to improve road safety).
- Municipalities should ensure that car sharing schemes are integrated within the existing public transport system and are easily accessible and targeted to specific demographic groups, e.g. non digital natives or 5 people with disabilities.
To read the full report, see “Research and innovation in car sharing in Europe”, and to access other related research areas and reports, please visit the search hub on the TRIMIS website. Projects in TRIMIS are by default marked with additional information regarding the STRIA roadmaps, as well as the relevant transport policy that they address.