A new survey indicates that 56% of the motorists queried in a half-dozen European countries would consider using a carsharing service rather owning a vehicle of their own – something that seems to reflect recent trends among younger buyers and a general malaise in the European automotive market.
So, if you’re struggling to grow your retail sales, Ford Motor Co. appears to have concluded, look for other options. And one of the solutions Ford has come up with is to set up its own carsharing service in Germany.
Ford2Go is the first automotive manufacturer-backed, nationwide carsharing program in Europe to incorporate traditional new car dealerships. Ford2Go was organized as a partnership among Ford of Germany, the German Ford dealers association FHD GmbH, and DB Rent GmbH – the company behind Flinkster carsharing.
A number of other manufacturers, notably including Daimer AG with its Car2Go system, have begun to experiment with carsharing but have not rolled it out across an entire market area as Ford intends to do. Carsharing service, such as ZipCar, also tend to concentrate in major cities in the U.S.
“Ford understands that for some of our customers – as this survey shows – car sharing is an attractive option,” said Bernhard Mattes, chairman of Ford of Germany and vice president, Ford Customer Service Division, Ford of Europe. “As a company, we are committed to a collaborative and integrated approach to future mobility, and the Ford2Go service is another significant step in exploring exactly how that future could look,” he said.
More than half of Europeans would consider carsharing, either through a formal program or through private arrangements, a Ford Motor Company-sponsored poll shows.
Mattes said drivers increasingly see carsharing programs as a viable option, particularly in dense urban areas where parking can be problematic, and public transit can meet many but not all transportation needs. Ready and affordable access to a pool of available vehicles can provide on-demand transportation flexibility. The survey included residents of Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom.
Of the 56% surveyed who said they would consider carsharing, 27% would be most attracted by reduced travel costs, 26% by convenience of location and operating hours, 23% by a straightforward booking system and 22% by a reduced impact on the environment.
The new Ford program calls for participating Ford dealers across Germany to offer cars and service to customers in their town, allowing easy access to shared cars and offering the chance for potential customers to experience Ford vehicles. DB Rent has developed a Web-based booking system along with iOS and Android smartphone apps for private and commercial customers participating in the Ford carsharing program.
Carsharing was one of the various elements highlighted by Ford Motor Company Executive chairman Bill Ford during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.
As outlined in the automaker’s Blueprint for Mobility, dealing with growing congestion and environmental concerns will require the development of a true network of mobility solutions, with personal vehicle ownership complemented by greater use of connected and efficient shared services, and completely new business models contributing to improved personal mobility.
Ford2Go will roll out starting in the second quarter 2013, with more than 500 cars expected to be made available from 50 dealerships by the end of the year. DB Rent will deliver the web-based booking system and the app compatible with both iOS and Android mobile devices, and available for use by private and commercial customers.
The timing of the Ford2Go program coincides with one of the worst downturns in European auto market since in mid-1990s. Sales for the first two months of 2013 plunged as much as 8% from last year’s already weak numbers, leaving makers like Ford scrambling to cut costs and slash production.