ShareNow, Successor to Car2Go, Pulls Out of North America

CC BY 2.0. Car2go in front of Seattle's Edith Macefield House / Lloyd Alter

So much for the "sharing economy". North Americans don't like sharing cars or parking spaces.

Since we started, TreeHugger promoted what we called Product Service Systems; Warren described them:

Want to save a truckload of money (and the environment), yet still have a lifestyle to which you have become accustomed? Just get your head around Product Service Systems (PSS). These take many forms and have a plethora of formal definitions. But in essence they are a means by which we get what we want, without needing to own the product that provides that service.

Later, PPS became known as the "sharing economy" and Car2Go was a wonderful example – here's a tiny fuel-efficient car that you pick up when you need it. No need to pay for the 94 percent of the time when cars are not used. Such a good idea. Too bad people in North America don't like to share anything, their cars or their parking; Daimler and BMW, which merged their programs into ShareNow, are pulling out. According to a statement on their website:

The decision to close North America was made based on two extremely complicated realities. The first being the volatile state of the global mobility landscape, and the second being the rising infrastructure complexities facing North American transportation today..and rising operating costs.... we are unable to continue operations in a manner that’s sustainable for our business due to low adoption rates.

What does that mean? One of their infrastructure problems was that people who were already here and owned cars didn't want to share the pavement. They pulled out of Toronto where they had 80,000 users (including TreeHugger emeritus Bonnie) because, as I wrote at the time, "residents of Toronto believe that parking their own private cars on public property is a god-given right" and they didn't like the idea of Car2Go parking on their street. Other cities charged such high fees that it became uneconomic to operate there.


Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

So what if the data showed that "for every Car2Go vehicle on the street, the researchers found, members sold somewhere between one and three personal vehicles and avoided buying between four and nine vehicles. Overall, each shared Car2Go vehicle removed as many as 11 personal cars from the road." So what if they actually created MORE parking spaces? Not in my front yard.

Really, we should all be doing everything we can to promote concepts like ShareNow/Car2Go. Instead, we had everyone fighting over parking spots. What else is new?

UPDATE: Jim McPherson of Autonomous Law says I shouldn't believe everything those researchers say about how many cars sharing systems actually take off the road. I asked why not: