The environmental benefits have been examined thoroughly with empirical data and life-cycle analysis tools for car sharing by Meijkamp (1998). One example is that a kilometre in a shared car compared with a kilometre in an average car has 14% less environmental impact. This small improvement follows from efficiency gain of shared cars. They also state that six to twenty-three less cars that need to be produced. Moreover, 30% of their fleet are hybrids or electric cars. It is hard to imagine an Factor 10 reduction of impacts by simply redesigning a product within its current industrial distribution business model.
Still, a car sharing company isn’t always driven by a green business model. In another research that included the Italian luxury car sharing Savarent case, it was concluded that leasing procedures might cause easy and capital extensive access to high end cars possibly leading to an increase in demand for transport.
Much more environmental benefits are caused by the behavioural changes when using a car sharing system. People who formerly owned a car, but switched to a shared car, used this car 65% less, while their overall mobility increased by 13%. This means that they used other modes of transportation, like a bicycle, train or bus. Compared with the average Dutch household, the environmental gain is 40%.
The economic theory for why this reduction happens is that the full costs of usage, when owning a car, were typically under-estimated. Journeys are mentally priced at their marginal cost of consumables. Whereas rental charges approximate more to the full cost of driving. Hence, trips which appear cheap in the first model become expensive in the second, and may therefore be eliminated or undertaken by a cheaper mode, such as taking the metro.
What we learn from a deeper look into the evidence from car sharing is that not only is the business model changes the IPATE not only by reducing the technology aspect but also by influencing the affluence aspect through reduced consumption in general. Findings ways for clients not to consume is rarely beneficial for companies unless in a different business model.
In spite of this deeper look into the car sharing study in the EPA report, many elements remain unknown. It is difficult to say if the positive experience cited by the case study of each business model is an exceptional case or a scalable one. In the next section, we will review the most recent research that now provides empirical evidence.