car sharing

What is it and how does it work?

Car sharing is a service permitting the use of a fleet of shared vehicles. Normally, such use is subject to booking, with the vehicles being picked up and taken back to pre-established points, with payment being in proportion to the use of the vehicle.



The service is typically managed by a profit or non-profit organisation which depending on the user base makes available more or less vehicles. Car sharing may therefore be compared to an "hourly car rental" service, with the cars awaiting use being parked in several different parking areas within a town and/or area.



The principle of operation of car sharing systems is rather simple and normally user needs to register with the service before being able to utilise the vehicles. Once the user has completed this initial step typically via the online procedures, the user may use the vehicles by taking the following steps: booking the car by phone or online; 2. collection of the car from the preselected car park, subject to a prior phase of identification, achieved through a contactless card which opens the vehicle; use of the vehicle for one's own purposes; delivery of the car back to one of the car parks dedicated to the car sharing service (typically, the same one as the car was collected from). The user is obliged to have to fill up the tank by going to petrol stations which are signed up to the scheme; they will bill the cost of the fuel directly to the car sharing service. In order as an incentive for users not to leave the car with little fuel, promotions or discounts might be provided for anyone who fills up the tank, and/or penalties for anyone who lets the vehicle run out of fuel.



The cost to the user can be calculated in different ways and provide different ways of charging: per kilometer, per time, or a combination of the two. Sometimes in addition it can be covered also a cost of annual subscription to the service. The car sharing users pay only on the basis of the real consumption and therefore they won't face the fixed costs of ownership of a vehicle. Each operator has its method of costs and rates calculation but all of them will include all the different items of expenditure to be incurred (like for example insurance, taxes, fuel, ordinary and extraordinary maintenance, service, etc.) in the calculation



Car sharing services prove to be capable of being easily integrated into local public transport systems. The main destination hubs, such as railway stations, bus stations, large employment hubs, commercial hubs, etc., may represent ideal vehicle collection/delivery points. In this way, car sharing is not intended to replace existing solutions but will simply be integrated into these by offering, through a multimodal solution a valid alternative to the use of private means of transport.


The advantages offered by a car sharing service are numerous and have been experienced both by the individual citizen and by the community. We have summarised some of them below:

  • 1

    Increased flexibility

    A car sharing service meets most mobility needs, especially if it is properly integrated with the local public transportation and other mobility services of a region.

  • 2

    Cost reduction

    The cost for the final user drops down because they are based on real usage, eliminating the fixed costs of the ownership of a vehicle.

  • 3

    Increased free space

    Sharing vehicles decreases the number of parked cars at the roadside thus creating free space that could be allocated for other uses.

  • 4

    Offers the last generation cars

    The cars will always be quite new and characterized by a high level of maintenance due to increased traveling compared to the average traveling of a single user. This means that the cars will be always of recent production and equipped with the latest technology on board, allowing you to maintain a high standard of safety and low levels of pollution.

  • 5

    It offers a wide variety of choice

    The car sharing, through a fleet of vehicles of different types (in size and in some cases even power), allows the user to choose the vehicle that best meets its actual needs.

Considering the substantial benefits for the community many municipalities tend to favor the use of these services offering additional benefits.

  • 1

    Use of bus lanes

    In some urban areas local authorities have decided to allow the use of the lanes dedicated to buses and taxis to vehicles of the car sharing services. In this way the end user who uses this service will move in a more simple and rapid way than the one that uses his own private vehicle.

  • 2

    Privileged access rights

    In some cases access is allowed to areas with special restrictions to traffic at vehicles of the car sharing services.

  • 3

    Parking privileges

    To encourage the use of car sharing systems many urban areas offer customers of this services the opportunity to park the cars of the car sharing free of charge in areas near to the center and also in the toll parking areas.

  • 4

    Less traffic restrictions

    Considering that the fleet of a car sharing service will always be equipped with vehicle of the latest generation the users will have the ability to move even during periods of traffic restrictions (eg, number plate, traffic circulation for overcoming of pollutants, etc.).