The answer it would seem, isn’t as black and white as many industry professionals first concluded. On one hand, car sharing as a niche has seen steady growth since the early 2000’s.
On the other hand, there were still only 65,000 vehicles recorded in North America at the end of 2015, compared to 3 million vehicles in traditional car rental. In fact, total annual revenue for carsharing in North America is about $400 million annually, compared to $27 billion in revenue for traditional car rental, emphasizing a significant contrast between the two.
While these numbers might suggest a trend of complete domination by car rental in the ground transportation industry (not including ridesharing), it’s important to remember that these numbers are only representative of the outlook in North America.
Experts strongly believe that the North American market has mostly grown through acquisition, consolidation and expansion by the major car sharing companies (Enterprise Carshare, Zipcar and Car2Go), and that the real growth for carsharing is found in emerging markets including Latin America, Eastern Europe and South East Asia.
When looking at this from a North American perspective, “carsharing in part is just an offshoot of traditional car rental that uses new technologies to create an enhanced user experience”. In other words, major car rental companies are introducing their own carsharing model to attract more urban consumers. Designed as an on-demand model that allows customers to access vehicles without the need for an in person transaction (a very traditional car rental concept). This trend is illustrated through Avis’ acquisition of Zipcar (North America’s largest car sharing brand) and by Enterprises’ acquisition of Autoshare.
In fact, as noted by Chris Brown of Auto Rental News, the car sharing market is dominated by the top car rental companies – “Avis Budget Group (Zipcar), Enterprise CarShare and Hertz 24/7 control about 85% of the total carshare market in the U.S.”