By Sean Gagnier, Crain News Service
DETROIT (Feb. 10, 2014) — Each vehicle in the Zipcar Inc. or car2go car-sharing fleet means 32 lost vehicle sales, according to a report from consulting firm AlixPartners L.L.P.
The report, based on a survey of 2,000 adult car-sharing customers, also said Americans would have bought 500,000 new or used vehicles since 2006 if not for access to car-sharing services, a total that could grow to 1.2 million by 2020.
“I think this will have a bigger impact on the market than [auto makers] think,” said Mark Wakefield, AlixPartners managing partner, in an interview.
As car sharing expands, the number of drivers using the services will grow rapidly, with 4 million Americans regularly using car sharing by 2020, up from fewer than 1 million today, the report said.
“Lower costs and lower hassle is driving adoption, not environmentalism or fads,” Mr. Wakefield said. “So this should not be seen as a fad.”
The average car-sharing service has about 66 members for each car in its fleet, the report said, and that is expected to grow to 81 members per car in 2020. About 48 percent of people who regularly use car sharing end up not buying or selling a car, the report said.
For the report, AlixPartners surveyed car-sharing customers in 10 major cities where car-sharing companies have gained a solid foothold: Chicago, Washington, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Miami, San Diego, Boston, Portland, Ore., and Austin, Texas.
Mr. Wakefield said the expansion of car sharing appears limited mainly to affluent, urban areas near universities, but a potential game changer is on the horizon: the self-driving car.
“The automated car could really be the ‘killer app' for car sharing,” he said. “It could be what really blows up the model to escape well beyond what people are looking at today.”
Vehicles on demand
Companies such as Enterprise Holdings and City CarShare are anticipating such a future.