Carsharing: driving mobility through the health crisis

Published by on 05.11.2021 - 3 min

Faced with COVID-19, while shared modes of transport might cause some legitimate concern, electric carsharing has seen a rise in interest. This mobility solution has all the preventive measures necessary to keep users safe.

Electric carsharing: a popular solution

Before the global health crisis, carsharing was on the rise. Its continual growth was being driven by the concurrence of two underlying phenomena unaffected by the economic situation: Firstly, by an increasing number of local authorities introducing incentivizing measures to reduce air pollution and traffic congestion with the creation of LEZs (Low Emission Zones) prohibiting certain polluting vehicles, the introduction of free parking for shared cars, etc. All of these measures benefit electric carsharing. Secondly, by the booming sharing economy, a trend particularly significant among 15-35 year-olds. Young city-dwellers no longer want the constraints of a private car that they barely use. Even less so when travel is restricted!

Zity

Spring 2020: the pandemic puts the brakes on

Without diminishing the interest for carsharing, which remains a veritable underlying trend, the lockdown in spring 2020 considerably slowed its development. The reason is simple: due to the health crisis, we travel a lot less!

Everywhere, the roll-out of new services had to be stopped. The numerous start-ups in the mobility sector, small and recent, were made particularly vulnerable by this abrupt shutdown.

Renault Group chose to turn this negative into a positive. From the end of March 2020, part of the fleet destined for the free-floating electric carsharing service ZITY — which, after Madrid, was supposed to launch in Paris — was made available free of charge to healthcare personnel from the Assistance Publique – Hôpitaux de Paris (AP-HP, the Paris public hospital system) and volunteers from the Red Cross mobilized in the fight against COVID-19. This partnership with Parisian hospitals, incidentally, still continues today in the form of preferential tariffs.

Carsharing, a safer way to travel

As of May 2020, it was back to business depending on how each country lifted its lockdown measures. As soon as they were able to start moving again, travelers in large numbers made the switch to carsharing: a mode of transport seen as reassuring because the driver is either alone or with close friends/relatives. Carsharing therefore attracted new customers more quickly than taxis or modes of public transport that are shared with strangers. “On May 20, Renault Group launched ZITY in Paris. And, since early summer, most carsharing services have returned to their pre-lockdown activity levels,” explains Vincent Carré, Director of car sharing operations at Renault Group. “This positive trend continued in autumn, despite Europe entering another period of restricted mobility.” Even today, between 5000 and 10,000 additional customers put their trust in the ZITY service in Madrid every month, and nearly 2000 in Paris.

 
“By the end of the year, carsharing activity stood at around 70-90% of its pre-lockdown levels, compared to 40-50% for taxis and public transport."
Vincent Carré Director of car sharing operations at Renault Group.

A strict health and safety policy

Users are reassured by the sanitary protocol put in place. During the spring 2020 lockdown, the vehicle loan scheme for health workers and Red Cross volunteers enabled Renault Group to optimize rigorous disinfection measures. From May onwards, the service was able to resume in strict compliance with government rules. Customers are invited to take preventive measures, such as wearing a mask, washing their hands, applying hand sanitizer and using wipes. In addition, the vehicles are fully disinfected during each charge and maintenance operation by the ZITY teams. When they pick up a vehicle, the jockeys (maintenance staff) are protected by a mask and must respect social distancing.

Carsharing, a future-facing model

While the roll-out of carsharing has been slowed by the current context of restricted mobility, the health crisis has not exposed any flaws in the model itself. On the contrary, driven by a durable trend, and providing reassurance to users, it resists far better than public transport in particular. When people are once again able to travel as they like, the development of carsharing is expected to shift up a gear.

 

Copyrights : LEMAL Jean-Brice, PLANIMONTEUR