What is Shared Mobility?


  1. What is shared mobility?
  2. The two forms of shared mobility
  3. What shared mobility services are there?
  4. Difference between shared mobility and community mobility
  5. How shared mobility works
  6. Where is shared mobility available?
  7. Advantages and disadvantages of shared mobility
  8. Shared mobility as the mobility concept of the future?
  9. E-mobility and sustainability
  10. Shared mobility and autonomous driving
  11. Shared mobility and public transport

What is shared mobility?

Shared mobility has the guiding principle of "using instead of owning". This means that several users share a vehicle at the same time or at different times. Mobility options include, for example, shared cars, scooters, bicycles, electric scooters and much more. This form of mobility can be divided into two categories:

  • Ride sharing
  • Verhicle sharing

The two forms of shared mobility

There are two different forms of shared mobility:

Mobility service with driver: Ride-hailing services such as Uber, Lyft and similar work in principle like cabs and can be used by several people (also known as ride-hailing). Another form of shared mobility, in which several people can book the same vehicle independently of each other, is ride pooling or on-demand services.
Vehicle rental: These vehicles - whether car, e-scooter or bicycle - are booked via an app and shared independently by different users. Well-known examples are free-floating car sharing and bike sharing.

Ridehailing vs. ridesharing: what's the difference?

In ridehailing, private drivers use their vehicles to drive passengers from A to B. Well-known ridehailing services include Uber, Bolt and Lyft.
Ridesharing is basically about forming a carpool, for example by people with similar destinations sharing a ride. A driver drives the route calculated based on the pick-up and drop-off points. These services are also referred to as on-demand services, as they are part of public transport but do not have a timetable but operate 'on demand'. Well-known ridesharing services include Moia and Berlkönig, for example.

Read the article now: New mobility explained: What is the difference between car sharing, ridehailing, ridesharing, ridepooling and carpooling?

What shared mobility options are there?

The six most relevant shared mobility services include

  • Car sharing
  • Bike sharing
  • E-scooter sharing
  • Ridehailing
  • Ridepooling
  • Ridesharing

Difference between shared mobility and community mobility

Shared mobility and collaborative mobility are two terms that are often used interchangeably, but which differ in one respect:

Shared mobility refers to the shared use of transportation, for example car sharing, bike sharing, ride sharing or scooter sharing. Here, a vehicle is used by several people at different times without them owning the vehicle. The main idea behind shared mobility is that fewer vehicles are needed and they are used more efficiently.
Community mobility, on the other hand, refers to the shared use of vehicles organized in a community or neighbourhood. This could be a car pool where several people share a car to get to work. It also includes jointly organized local public transport. The aim of shared mobility is to reduce the need for private transportation and promote the use of environmentally friendly means of transport.

However, both concepts share the goal of making better use of resources and reducing traffic-related environmental pollution.

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How shared mobility works

Shared mobility usually runs via a mobility provider that manages the vehicles and makes them available in public spaces. Most shared mobility providers offer their services via an app or software. The first step is to register, during which users must provide their personal data and usually also undergo verification using their ID card and, in the case of car sharing and e-moped providers, their driver's license. Once the account has been activated, users can book or rent the desired vehicle via the app.

Users can choose between minute, hourly or daily rates. Some providers, such as Miles, offer their vehicles at a rate per kilometer. Payment is made directly via the app and the payment method stored there. Common options here are credit cards, payment services such as PayPal or a mobility budget provided by the company.

The booked vehicle is also opened or activated using the smartphone. After the rental, the user parks the vehicle either at an available station, a specified location or anywhere in the defined business area. This depends on whether the sharing service is station-based or operates via a free-floating system.

Goals of shared mobility

Providers are pursuing two goals with the shared mobility concept:

  1. Firstly, by expanding shared mobility services, fewer cars and vehicles should be standing around unused in urban areas and taking up valuable space.
  2. Secondly, the constant use of vehicles can help to reduce the volume of traffic - especially if as many vehicles as possible are shared.

Together, these two goals have a positive effect on the quality of air and life in cities.

Where is shared mobility available?

Sustainable mobility concepts such as car sharing or ride sharing are a new form of transportation. Sharing services are already available, especially in densely populated cities where providers operate their vehicles and stations. Many small towns or rural areas in general, on the other hand, are not yet benefiting from these new mobility concepts.

The current focus on cities is due to the potentially higher demand there. The significantly higher population density means that vehicles can be used more efficiently. Providers expect this to result in better profitability. In addition, people in rural areas often own a car and need more time to make changes.

Does the sharing model have any prospects in rural areas?

On the other hand, it would be more effective to introduce such a model in rural areas, as the need for individual mobility is much more urgent there. However, shared mobility is still in the development phase in many areas and is dependent on as much movement data as possible in order to optimize the concept. This means that as many people as possible need to use shared mobility services in the shortest possible time. In rural areas, it is much more difficult to find a broad mass for this.

Nevertheless, there are positive examples of it working, particularly with station-based car sharing and community mobility services (village car sharing). Ridesharing and on-demand services are also being established and well received in many regions, as they can close gaps in local public transport.

Advantages and disadvantages of shared mobility

Shared mobility has advantages and disadvantages. The most important advantages and disadvantages are listed below.

Advantages of shared mobility

  • Cost savings through shared use of vehicles
  • Distribution of fixed costs for purchase, maintenance, repair and insurance
  • Reduction in traffic volume due to fewer cars on the roads
  • Environmentally friendly due to lower emissions
  • Parking space requirements and search for parking spaces become more efficient
  • Freeing up space in densely built-up city districts
  • Flexibility with demand-optimized mobility offers
  • More efficient use of vehicles

Disadvantages of shared mobility

  • High costs for daily commuters or for longer journeys
  • Limited flexibility due to pre-planning of usage time
  • Dependence on third parties for the availability of vehicles
  • Range of vehicles often only in cities or defined regions
  • Low availability in rural areas to date
  • Hygiene concerns due to the shared use of vehicles
  • Mobility limited to predefined vehicles and their equipment

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Shared mobility as the mobility concept of the future?

In all likelihood, shared mobility will continue to develop and grow. People's mobility behavior has changed fundamentally in recent years. New mobility services such as ride pooling, ride hailing and the various sharing services from bicycles, e-scooters and e-mopeds to car sharing promise to conserve resources and at the same time be more cost-effective than traditional forms of mobility. After all, a lot of money can be saved if a car is only used occasionally. Last but not least, the true costs of car ownership are significantly underestimated. Anyone who calculates what they have to pay in insurance premiums and taxes each year will quickly realize that car sharing (or a car subscription) is the better alternative if the car is not used regularly.

Sustainable and efficient transport solutions need to be created in cities to solve the challenges they face, such as traffic congestion, lack of space and air pollution. Shared mobility can help with this. There are already funding programs for sharing providers in several countries. The aim is to increase the number of providers with a focus on electromobility.

E-mobility and sustainability

A combustion engine car that is used via a sharing service is still a car that causes emissions. One relevant point is therefore the electrification of vehicle fleets, which is being accelerated in the area of shared mobility. Car sharing providers want to reduce their impact on the environment by using electric cars.

From a sustainability perspective, it is worth integrating and combining different modes of transport. Mobility hubs, i.e. mobile transfer points where users can switch from one mode of transport to another, are emerging in many places. This creates seamless and flexible mobility.

Shared mobility is also based on the promise that traffic on the roads will be significantly reduced because cars will be used more efficiently. This means that cars are not parked in a parking space for 23 hours a day, but are used by other people in the meantime. This also has a positive effect on air quality and reduces emissions.

Shared mobility and autonomous driving

Interest in shared mobility services has increased in recent years. If self-driving cars continue to develop in the future, they have the potential to significantly increase the profitability of such sharing services. The cost per kilometer of shared mobility services can be significantly reduced through automation.

However, the much-discussed (positive) effects of shared mobility services on mobility behavior, other modes of transport, the environment and cities in general have not yet been thoroughly investigated. However, some studies predict a shift away from private journeys and more efficient transport operations under certain scenarios.

Shared mobility and public transport

Shared mobility concepts have the great potential to significantly extend the reach of local public transport - e.g. in urban peripheral areas, in the countryside or for the so-called "last mile". Such a contribution to solving last-mile challenges increases the attractiveness of public transport.

Seamless networking with public transport is particularly important for the success of shared mobility: targeted investment in public transport with the integration of sharing services will help to make urban mobility future-proof and more sustainable and to align it with the needs of users.

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Stefan Wendering
Stefan is a freelance author and editor at NAVIT. Previously, he worked for startups and in the mobility sphere. He is an expert in urban and sustainable mobility, employee benefits, and New Work. In addition to creating blog content, he also produces marketing materials, taglines, and website content, as well as case studies.
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