Four Facts about Carsharing in Emerging Markets that Might Surprise You

Carsharing, like Brazil’s Zazcar, has expanded faster and in more places than you might have expected. Photo by Zazcar

Growing from 6 operators in 2012 to 41 by mid-2015, carsharing is rapidly expanding in emerging markets worldwide. What is the future of carsharing? What impact will this innovation have on cities? What are the key challenges for ensuring that carsharing becomes a vehicle for sustainable mobility? This four-part series from TheCityFix draws on new research from WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, exploring and unpacking what carsharing means for cities of the future.

Carsharing has expanded exponentially in the past few years. Indeed, while you may have used a Zipcar in the US or Europe, it’s difficult to grasp just how much carsharing has advanced in emerging markets. Here’s a look at four surprising facts about carsharing in developing economies:

1: Today, You Can Rent a Shared Car in 41 Cities in Seven Emerging Markets

Carsharing companies currently operate in seven emerging markets, including Brazil, China, India, Malaysia, Mexico, South Africa and Turkey. Notably, Costa Rica also hosted a carsharing operator (CSO) which began in 2010; however, the company closed in 2014. Furthermore, the number of cities within these countries with at least one operating CSO has risen steadily from 6 in 2012, to 41 by mid-2015. For some regions, this looks to be just the beginning for CSOs. For example, Africa’s first carsharing company—South Africa’s Locomute, which launched in June 2015—is planning to expand to two new cities (Durban and Cape Town) this year.

With service in South Africa, Locomute is Africa’s first carsharing operator. Photo by Locomute

2: The Number of Carsharing Operators in Emerging Markets Has More Than Doubled Since 2012

Carsharing is growing rapidly in emerging markets, with the number of CSOs doubling in just three years. For example, in Brazil, there are now six carsharing companies operating, including Zazcar, JoyCar, and Fleety, the first peer-to-peer carshare in emerging markets. Moreover, since 2012, 17 new CSOs have been introduced (and four have closed operations), bringing the number of CSOs in emerging market cities from 9 in 2012, to 22 by mid-2015. The more businesses providing carsharing services means more competition within the industry, and more options for users. Further, this growth doesn’t seem to be slowing, as two new carsharing operators plan to launch within the next six months in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Chongqing, China.

Carsharing has seen tremendous growth in emerging economies within the last few years. Graphic by WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities

3: Carsharing Growth in India and China Has Outpaced Established Markets

Carsharing in India and China has grown so quickly in recent years that these countries are now outpacing more established markets, like the U.S. and Europe. Indeed, three CSOs in China and India—two of which launched since 2013—now have the largest memberships in emerging markets, with more than 100,000 members each.

In 2012 there were only 2 CSOs in China; today, there are 10 operational CSOs in the country, with an eleventh planned to open in late 2015. These Chinese CSOs operate a total of 6,500 vehicles across 15 cities and have an estimated 693,000 members.

In India, two CSOs—ZoomCar and MYLEShave seen massive recent growth. ZoomCar has more than 100,000 members across 4 cities, and has raised $11 million in venture funding. Partnering with automotive companies, Zoom was India’s first rental car company to offer electric vehicles in their fleet. MYLES, the carsharing branch of car rental company Carzonrent, currently has a fleet of 1,000 cars in 13 Indian cities.

Chefenxianh (EVnet’s) station locations in Hangzhou, China. Graphic from

4: Today, an Estimated 898,000 Members Share More than 9,200 Vehicles in Emerging Markets

Not only are there now more CSOs around the world, but these businesses have more vehicles and more members than ever. In 2012, the 9 CSOs in operation had a combined fleet of about 260 vehicles, which were shared between roughly 4,460 members. Three years later, by mid-2015, 22 CSOs were operating in emerging markets and have an estimated 898,000 members sharing more than 9,200 vehicles. As the numbers make clear, CSOs have scaled up exponentially in just four years.

With CSOs on nearly every continent, carsharing has truly become a global phenomenon. Graphic by WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities

As these figures show, the carsharing industry in emerging markets is accelerating at an unprecedented rate. However, it remains unclear whether or not carsharing will continue to expand to other cities in these seven developing countries, or move into new countries. With continued innovation and investment by entrepreneurs, and recognition and support from local governments, carsharing may very well play a major role in sustainable cities of the future.

This is part 2 of our 4-part series. Click to read parts: (1) (3) (4)

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