The growing popularity of car-sharing programs in Europe is making German carmakers Daimler and BMW bullish about the future of this new scheme. According to Robert Henrich, managing director of Daimler Mobility Services, its car-sharing program Car2Go is already reaping profits at three major cities where it was launched in 2009 -- Hamburg, Germany; Vienna, Austria; and Vancouver, Canada.
Daimler's Car2Go is currently available in 21 cities, with a global fleet that is expected to grow to 10,000 cars in 2013 from 6,100 in 2012. Daimler's Car2Go fleet is currently comprised of Smart ForTwos, generating 10 million rentals from half a million customers. Henrich added that it usually takes three to four years for a city scheme to make money.
Tony Douglas, head of marketing and sales for mobility services at BMW, told Automotive News Europe, that the car-sharing market is “becoming mainstream." According to Douglas, a key to success in the car-sharing sector is making sure that "people can always find a car nearby.”
He likened the car-sharing program to a bus stop. He noted that if people find a stop within 400 meters of their house, they will use the bus. As for the sharing scheme, if people find a car within 500 meters, they will use it.
BMW's DriveNow scheme, which is operated in partnership with rental company Sixt, was established two years ago and has since expanded to five cities and 1,600 cars. Douglas expects BMW’s car sharing business to to post its first profit this year.
He said they are targeting is to have 1 million car-sharing customers by 2020. Daimler and BMW, however, are not alone in this business. Carmakers like Ford, PSA/Peugeot-Citroen, Renault, Toyota and Volkswagen have also set up their car-sharing units.
According to Frost & Sullivan, the car-sharing sector is expected to grow to 26 million global users by 2020 from the current 2.3 million customers. The analyst also expects the car-sharing sector in Europe to grow to 15 million customers by 2020 from 1 million today. [source: automotive news - sub. required]