Easing into the Electric Future: How Car Sharing and Subscription Services Address EV Challenges

Alessandro Di Caprio

Embarking on a journey into the future of transportation, this blog explores the burgeoning realm of Electric Vehicles (EVs) as a cornerstone in reshaping mobility, delving into their rapid growth, environmental imperatives, challenges, and innovative solutions such as car sharing and subscription services.

EVs as the Future of Mobility
Electric Vehicles (EVs) are rapidly becoming a cornerstone in the transportation industry. With an influx of purely EV companies entering the market and traditional car makers pouring substantial investments into the development of more affordable, long-range vehicles, the landscape is evolving quickly. In 2023, the Australian electric vehicle market was estimated at around USD 6.38 billion, projected to reach USD 26.61 billion by 2028, boasting a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 33.06% during the forecast period of 2023-2028. The Australian government, recognizing this potential, has developed a national EV policy and increased financing for greener transport to AUD 500 million. Testament to this growth, Tesla's Model Y became the most sold vehicle in 2023, outpacing petrol cars - a clear indicator of consumer preference shifting towards electric vehicles despite their higher price tags.


The Environmental Imperative of EVs

EVs are more than just a technological advancement; they are a critical response to the environmental crisis. They produce significantly lower emissions over their lifespan compared to internal combustion engine vehicles, which are responsible for a substantial portion of global greenhouse gas emissions. This difference stems primarily from the lack of tailpipe emissions in EVs and lower operational emissions, especially when powered by renewable energy sources. The impact varies by region, with EVs in areas using clean electricity sources reducing carbon pollution by up to 90% compared to gasoline vehicles. Even in regions reliant on coal-powered electricity, EVs can cut CO2 pollution by about 30%. In countries like the U.S., driving an EV reduces CO2 emissions by two-thirds, a figure that's expected to improve as electricity generation becomes greener.


EVs Challenges
Yet, the path to a fully electric automotive industry is fraught with challenges. The primary issues include:

  1. High Initial Purchase Cost and Affordability: The average cost of EVs is about 23% higher than traditional vehicles, posing a significant barrier for many consumers. Despite potential long-term savings on operating expenses, the initial capital cost remains daunting with a break even of as much as 17.2 years.
  2. Range Anxiety: The fear of running out of electricity, or “range anxiety,” is a major concern. While the average Australian vehicle travels approximately 33.2 km per day, many consumers desire EVs with a range of 320 to 640 km, indicating a significant mismatch between perception and reality.
  3. Charging Infrastructure Limitations: The current state of charging infrastructure, with its long charging times and limited availability, further complicates the adoption of EVs. Considering that Australia is one of the first country for per-capita cars, with an average of 782 cars per 1000 people, this can result in significant waiting times and congestions, especially when multiple vehicles need to charge simultaneously at a single location.
  4. Battery Life and Degradation: The gradual loss of battery capacity over time is another concern, typically occurring over a period of around 10 years.

Bridging the Gap with Innovative Solutions through shared adoption
In light of these challenges, car sharing and subscription services emerge as innovative, practical solutions. By providing access to EVs without the commitment of ownership, these models address the financial barrier of high initial costs and alleviate range anxiety and charging congestion with a diverse fleet tailored to various needs.


Reducing Per Capita Car Ownership

Car sharing and subscription services are pivotal in reducing the number of cars per capita. By ensuring that EVs are actively utilized rather than remaining idle, these services not only alleviate the need for excessive vehicle numbers but also significantly reduce the environmental footprint. The result is lower emissions and less demand on urban infrastructure.


Access Over Ownership

Emphasizing 'access over ownership,' these models offer a flexible and economically viable alternative to traditional car ownership. They make EVs more accessible to a wider audience, eliminating the burden of hefty upfront investments and ongoing maintenance worries. This shift aligns with the preferences of a cost-conscious and environmentally aware society.


Promoting EV Use

Car sharing and subscription services also play a crucial role in promoting the use of EVs. By providing an opportunity to experience electric vehicles without long-term commitment, these services act as platforms for familiarisation and increased comfort with EV technology. They help break down psychological barriers and showcase the best of what EVs have to offer.


Integrating IoT for Enhanced Data Insights

As we explore innovative solutions in car sharing and subscription services, the role of Internet of Things (IoT) technology emerges as a critical enabler. Unlike privately owned vehicles, where data on usage and driving habits is harder to track, shared vehicles equipped with IoT devices provide a treasure trove of data. This difference is pivotal in understanding vehicle use more comprehensively. 

IoT-enabled shared vehicles allow for real-time monitoring of various aspects such as location, travel distance, and usage patterns. This enhanced data collection leads to two significant advantages:

  1. Smarter Infrastructure Development: The Australian government's initiative to develop a comprehensive charging network is a case in point. With plans to install charging stations on major highways, no more than 150km apart, and an additional 1,500 charging stations, there's a clear move towards creating a supportive environment for EVs. This development is not just about increasing the number of charging stations; it's about building them consciously and strategically. Data collected from IoT-enabled shared vehicles can be invaluable here. By analyzing travel patterns, frequented routes, and charging behavior, planners can identify optimal locations for new charging stations, ensuring they are both accessible and utilized effectively. This approach represents a shift towards data-driven, conscious infrastructure development, aligning resources with actual user needs and behaviors.
  2. Improved Fleet Management and Policy Making: IoT data helps in optimizing fleet distribution and maintenance, ensuring better availability and longevity of vehicles. Moreover, this data can aid policymakers in crafting more effective strategies and incentives to accelerate EV adoption, aligned with actual consumer behavior and needs.

Incorporating IoT within shared mobility services, therefore, not only enhances operational efficiency but also contributes significantly to the development of a more sustainable and user-friendly EV ecosystem.


Case Study of a Successful Story of Car Subscription: Lynk & Co
The subscription program offered by Lynk & Co serves as a prime example of this innovative approach. At a monthly cost of approximately $586, subscribers gain access to a Lynk & Co 01, available in both hybrid and fully electric versions, with the added benefits of inclusive insurance, maintenance, and taxes. This model, already showing success in Europe with a user growth of 200% between 2022 and 2023, is set to debut in Australia by 2025. 

A particularly striking aspect of this program is the ability to share the subscription among multiple users. This feature not only substantially reduces both individual and environmental costs but also alleviates pressure on charging stations by minimizing congestion. This reduction in per capita carbon footprint is a significant step toward promoting EV adoption. By offering consumers a taste of electric vehicles without the need for outright ownership, akin to a subscription-based test drive, Lynk & Co is effectively bridging the gap between curiosity and commitment. This strategy of shared usage not only acquaints users with EV technology in a practical setting but also lessens the strain on existing charging infrastructure, paving the way for a more efficient and sustainable transportation landscape.


Car Sharing in Australia: GoGet Case Study
GoGet, Australia's largest car-sharing service, is at the forefront of transforming urban mobility. Operating over 3,000 cars with a membership exceeding 200,000, GoGet has become a staple in the daily lives of many Australians. This service has significantly reduced the number of cars on city streets, particularly in Sydney, contributing to decreased traffic congestion and lower carbon emissions. The reduction in the number of privately owned vehicles underscores the effectiveness of shared mobility solutions in promoting a more sustainable urban environment. 

While GoGet's fleet predominantly consists of traditional petrol vehicles, the company is well-positioned to take a leap into the future of transportation by integrating electric vehicles (EVs). This shift has the potential to further amplify the environmental benefits of the service. By adopting EVs, GoGet can decrease its carbon footprint even more significantly, offering an eco-friendlier alternative to its users. The introduction of EVs into GoGet's fleet would not only demonstrate environmental stewardship but also serve as a powerful catalyst for wider EV adoption among the general public.



Navigating Complexities: Data Privacy and the Emission Dynamics of EVs

As we delve into the transformative potential of electric vehicles and IoT-enabled mobility services, it's essential to consider some of the counterarguments that surface in these discussions. While the shift towards EVs and connected technologies promises numerous benefits, it also raises important questions about privacy and the true environmental impact of this transition. 


Privacy vs Convenience in IoT-Enabled Mobility

The integration of IoT in car sharing and subscription services brings both benefits and challenges. While IoT devices enhance user experiences through rich data, they raise significant privacy concerns by collecting extensive information, including personal travel patterns.

In Australia, legal frameworks like the Criminal Code Act 1995 and the Security of Critical Infrastructure Act 2018 provide some protection against unauthorised data access. However, these regulations are more focused on cybersecurity, leaving gaps in personal data privacy protection​​. The Australian Government's Cyber Security Strategy 2020 indicates a move towards more robust cybersecurity obligations, but comprehensive privacy measures specifically for IoT in transportation are still evolving​​. 

The real challenge lies in the type of data collected and how it's used. With IoT devices capable of tracking detailed user information, issues of consent and data ownership become paramount, especially where law enforcement access is involved​​. Manufacturers are incorporating security measures like encryption and VPNs to safeguard data​​, but a broader, privacy-centric approach is needed. This includes transparent policies on data usage and user control over personal information, ensuring a balance between the conveniences of IoT-enabled services and the fundamental right to privacy. 


Emissions Debate: Distributed vs Concentrated Impact

On the environmental front, the debate often hovers around the distributed emissions from conventional gasoline vehicles versus the concentrated emissions associated with EV production and the electricity they consume. Traditional vehicles emit pollutants throughout their production and lifecycle, spreading emissions across their operating environment. In contrast, EVs, while emission-free during operation, have associated emissions from their manufacturing process, particularly battery production, and the electricity generation needed to charge them. This raises a critical question: Are we reducing overall emissions or simply shifting them from roads to manufacturing plants and power stations? A comprehensive assessment reveals that EVs produce approximately 39 metric tons of CO2 equivalent over their lifespan, which is notably lower than the 55 tCO2e emitted by ICEVs. This advantage is primarily due to the absence of tailpipe emissions and the superior energy efficiency of EVs, which emit about 4.4 metric tons of CO2 annually, compared to 11.4 metric tons from gas cars. 

However, the true answer lies in the continuous efforts to improve the sustainability of EV production and to increase the share of renewable sources in electricity generation, ensuring that the environmental benefits of EVs are realized comprehensively from production to power consumption to end-of-life disposal. This aspect of the EV narrative is crucial in understanding the complete environmental impact and in guiding future strategies for truly sustainable mobility.


Driving Towards a Sustainable Future

In the face of environmental imperatives and technological evolution, the journey towards an electric future is more than a mere shift in vehicle preference; it’s a fundamental transformation in our approach to mobility. As we navigate the challenges of cost, infrastructure, and consumer hesitancy, the role of car sharing and subscription services cannot be overstated. They are not just stop-gap solutions but pivotal cogs in the wheel of progress, accelerating the adoption of EVs while catering to the practical needs of today’s society.

The success stories of Lynk & Co in Europe and GoGet in Australia are beacons of innovation, demonstrating how flexibility and accessibility can democratize the use of EVs. These models are reshaping our relationship with vehicles, from possessions to services, reducing environmental impacts, and paving the way for more sustainable urban environments.

As governments and industries continue to invest in and support the growth of EV infrastructure, these shared mobility solutions stand as testaments to human ingenuity and adaptability. They are the bridges connecting the present to an electrified, eco-conscious future, where the roads are less congested, the air is cleaner, and transportation is a service that aligns seamlessly with our environmental responsibilities and lifestyle choices.

In this exciting era of transition, each of us has a role to play. Whether it’s choosing to subscribe to a car service, participating in car-sharing, or simply staying informed and open to new ways of moving around, our collective actions will shape the future of transportation. The road ahead is electric, and together, we are steering towards a brighter, greener future.


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