By: Lesley Brown
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Xavier Corouge & Europcar Mobility Group
In October 2019, Futura-Mobility caught up with Xavier Corouge, managing director, Urban Mobility Business Unit, Europcar Mobility Group, to discuss roundtrip carsharing and how it fits in with changing attitudes to mobility, expectations, and services…
Futura-Mobility: What are the strengths of carsharing?
Xavier Corouge: Take the example of Paris City Hall and its Mobilib’ carsharing service, where we are the main operator – through Ubeeqo, our Group’s carsharing brand: on the whole, we provide plug-in hybrid or electric vehicles. Hence our use case doesn’t involve vehicles that generate quite significant CO2 emissions: instead, it’s more a case of ‘green cars’.
Second point: carsharing users tend to be people who don’t have their own car and they travel around 60% fewer kilometres by car than car owners. Hence the more carsharing is deployed within a roundtrip ecosystem, the more the number of kilometres by car will decrease. Why is this? Because users of these services turn more to and rediscover the joys of other transport modes, like walking, or cycling – which is also sometimes part of ‘shared use’ services. A car owner, on the other hand, who may well have invested heavily to buy their vehicle, will obviously drive it as much as possible to ‘recoup’ this investment. They’re going to use this car at the drop of a hat to go and buy a baguette, to travel out of town at the weekend, and so forth.
FM: But at the end of the day, whether ‘shared’ or not, the car is still a car. So with regards occupying urban space, how does carsharing change things?
XC: It’s still the car, that’s for sure. In our vision of mobility for an urban context, the backbone must remain high capacity public transport, mainly rail. However, since rail can’t meet every need, we must be able to join solutions to this backbone that are adapted to every need, like carsharing in particular, among others. But this is the first step towards an answer. We will continue to depend on cars for certain connections, for the first/last mile. Furthermore, in less dense or medium-sized cities, the car is still a must for everyday needs. We won’t manage to get rid of these cases. In this context, however, carsharing nevertheless serves to optimise car use and helps reduce the overall number of vehicles on the roads.
On public roads in general, one car operating in ‘roundtrip carsharing mode’ cuts the number of individual cars from 10 to 20. Hence it is delivering significant benefits in terms of saving parking space and congestion, as well having a positive impact on levels of CO2 emissions.
FM: How does roundtrip carsharing square with ‘soft mobility’?
XC: We can’t possibly claim that one solution is going to meet every need and be THE only solution to encourage moves towards soft mobility. We are really shifting away from a model centred on the individual car to one whereby this individual car has become the problem; to a model that will ultimately cater for every need with an efficient mobility solution – be it carsharing, cycling, walking, or other. Hence, in this new ecosystem, roundtrip carsharing is providing a fundamental contribution to soft mobility.
- Roundtrip carsharing, unlike one-way or free-floating, is based on reserved parking spots. In this kind of system, the vehicle must be returned to the space where it was picked up. In Paris, four operators – Ada, Communauto, Drivy, and Ubeeqo – are providing roundtrip carsharing services under the umbrella of City Hall’s Mobilib’ offer.