Insights interview on Swiss station-based carsharing

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Carsharing, Expert Interviews, Shared Mobility

Summary

The Swiss station-based carsharing market ranks among the top five in Europe. We asked Jonas Schmid, Director at the Swiss Alliance for Collaborative Mobility CHACOMO, about the market’s history and development, the success of station-based operators, and the lack of free-floating services in the country.

Swiss station-based carsharing

The carsharing industry is complex, featuring a diverse range of business models deployed on the streets. Operators utilize various approaches, including station-based services, peer-to-peer carsharing, and free-floating services, catering to different use cases and running distinct services. To address and explain some of these complexities, INVERS recently launched the European Station-Based Carsharing Barometer. This free-of-charge, 50-page report helps station-based carsharing operators quickly understand key market dynamics, insights, and trends.

Our Barometer also highlights statistics and findings from the Swiss market. CHACOMO not only represents the country’s carsharing operators, but also understands the market like no other. Therefore, we were happy to sit down with their Director, Jonas Schmid, for this interview.

Who is CHACOMO and what is your purpose?

CHACOMO (Swiss Alliance for Collaborative Mobility) is the association of the shared mobility sector in Switzerland. It provides a collective voice within the political process and public debate for its 30+ members accounting for almost 10 million shared mobility trips a year. The association regularly publishes data, insights, and statistics on the development of shared mobility in Switzerland, including carsharing.

Can you guide us through the most important developments in Swiss carsharing over the past decades?

Switzerland has played a pioneering role in the development of carsharing. In fact, the first carsharing cooperatives were founded back in the mid-1980s. These groups later merged to become the “Mobility Carsharing Cooperative”, by far the largest provider to date with a market share of around 75% in B2C carsharing. Since 2010, a couple of new, smaller providers have entered the picture and successfully occupied niches: P2P carsharing, carsharing for municipalities, shared utility vehicles and so on. Mobility Carsharing tested free-floating in Basel and Geneva but gave it up after a couple of years due to a lack of success. In 2021, the TCS Mobility Academy founded CHACOMO, the Swiss Alliance for Collaborative Mobility, in order to lobby for shared mobility interests in Switzerland with one single voice. We recently published an initial carsharing policy paper aiming for a tripling of users by 2030.

Like Norway or Ireland, Swiss carsharing focuses on the station-based carsharing model. Why does free-floating carsharing seem to have a hard time in Switzerland?

As mentioned before, free-floating carsharing was seriously tested and then aborted. We see multiple reasons for this failure: the extremely good public transport networks in Swiss cities, a strong focus on promoting public transport and active mobility, and the relatively small size of the cities. Besides that, in Basel the lack of parking spaces seemed to make free-floating trips unattractive to users.

If you could take us on a carsharing research trip to Switzerland, which local carsharing specials should we not miss?

There are a lot of exciting initiatives and projects that are worth a longer visit! You definitely shouldn’t miss the opportunity to test the shared, electric micro-vans of smargo. They are used by companies for deliveries as well as by citizens who need to transport bulky items. The “Smargos” are only 1.3 m wide and are therefore perfectly suited to dense urban areas.

Another flagship project is the “V2X initiative” by Mobility Carsharing. The project aims to test the potential of bidirectional charging with carsharing fleets for power grid stability and storage. Results are expected in the spring of 2024.

AMAG, the biggest Swiss car dealer, is currently driving B2B carsharing forward. They recently launched a new product called “allride”, which combines carsharing with shared micromobility. The focus is on residential estates and corporate mobility.

Finally, we would take you to Basel, where the city has recently started allocating public parking spaces to various carsharing providers. An initiative that we have just rewarded with our Shared Mobility Award for cities, the so-called CHACOM-Oscar.

Further insights into station-based carsharing

Thank you, Jonas, for the great chat and this insightful interview.

For more information and interesting findings about station-based carsharing, we encourage readers to check out our European Station-Based Carsharing Barometer or the carsharing data section at Chacomo.ch. If you enjoyed this article, you’ll also be interested in the insights we got in our interview with Antonia Roberts, Deputy Chief Executive of CoMoUK, the British shared mobility association.

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