Car sharing in the Netherlands is on the rise: here’s why it should continue

Car sharing is becoming more popular in the Netherlands. The number of shared cars is increasing mainly due to growing attention for the environment and the fight against congestion on the roads.

If there’s one thing the pandemic and lockdown has shown us, it’s that the roads are so much better with fewer cars on them. Additionally, on average, cars are stationary about 90 percent of the time. So wouldn’t it make sense to share them?

As more and more people make use of car-sharing possibilities in the Netherlands, even more people start to understand the benefits. In 2020, the Netherlands had 730,000 people making use of shared cars, according to CROW. That is a 42% increase compared to 2019 — when there were still 515,000 users.

This is good news because the sharing of cars is sustainable and the more we do it, the fewer (second) cars people will buy. Moreover, car sharing is perfect for people who travel less often by car and drive shorter distances.

Let’s talk numbers

According to De Verkeersonderneming, there are currently 369 shared cars per 100,000 inhabitants in the Netherlands. Business car sharing, in particular, is growing rapidly in big cities like Amsterdam and Utrecht.

Photo-of-Amsterdam-canal-houses-with-car-parked-in-front
Amsterdam is leading with the highest number of car shares. Image: Benjamin Hollway/Unsplash

The idea behind employees of a particular company sharing cars saves companies money and is also good for the environment. Community-based car sharing is equally on the rise. It means that you share a car with a group of residents of a flat, district, or neighborhood.

Large municipalities are the top sharers

In large municipalities, the chance that you will see a shared car is increasing. Cities such as Utrecht and Amsterdam have more car-sharing users and the shared cars are often electric.

In terms of the total number of cars, the municipality of Amsterdam leads with more than 11 thousand shared cars. The number of shared cars also continues to grow the fastest.

Utrecht and The Hague each have more than 5,000 shared cars. Nevertheless, Utrecht leads the way in terms of the number of shared cars per 100,000 inhabitants, which is almost 1,500 in Utrecht, thus putting the city in the first place.

The number of shared cars also grew rapidly in Rotterdam in 2020, putting the city in the top 10 for the first time. Shared cars are slowly gaining popularity in Haarlem, Amersfoort, and Groningen.

In order for car-sharing to be a real success in the Netherlands, more cars need to be made available for sharing. And this should also be actively promoted so that people are made aware of the possibilities and encouraged to use them.

Coronavirus leads to more car sharing

The corona crisis has had a positive impact on the use of car-sharing possibilities. At the beginning of the “intelligent” lockdown in 2020, while car-sharing wasn’t as badly affected as public transportation because more people chose to walk, cycle, and enjoy the fresh air, a huge number of car owners looked for platforms to share their cars that had been stationary throughout the lockdown.

Many platform providers showed a strong increase in the demand for car-sharing after the lockdown. This can probably be explained by the recommendation to use public transport only for essential journeys.

Carpool/ridesharing

The sharing of cars isn’t the only phenomenon that is becoming more popular in the Netherlands. Carpooling and ride-sharing are terms that are used interchangeably, where carpool usually refers to colleagues riding with each other, while ride-sharing is basically people in the same community giving rides to each other for cash. This is usually done via a ride-sharing app.

Difference between car sharing and car rental

The difference between opting for a shared car and renting from a car rental company is that you do not have to go to the rental company itself, but that there is (almost) always a car near you.

Additionally, an app shows you the available shared cars in your vicinity, and you can also make a reservation via the app at any time. You are therefore not bound by the opening hours of a rental company.

Benefits of car sharing

Car sharing offers significant environmental, social, and economic benefits. It reduces the number of cars on the roads, the number of traffic jams, CO2 emissions, parking pressure, and the individual cost of using a car.

Photo-of-cars-waiting-in-traffic-Amsterdam-Netherlands
The Netherlands could see many benefits to car sharing. Image: Ihor N/Unsplash

Car sharing is a sustainable and flexible alternative to owning a car. Let’s run through some of the main advantages:

Car sharing is cost-efficient

Owning your own car is expensive. An average Dutch family pays between €3,500 and €7,500 annually (depending on size) for a car (inspection, maintenance, fuel, etc.). With car sharing, you save a lot of money every year.

READ MORE| 7 things to know before owning a car in the Netherlands in 2021

Car sharing is flexible

With car sharing, you reserve a car that is tailored to your situation. Are you a single parent about to drop off the kids at football practice and then run some errands? Do you want to go shopping with some friends? Do you want to visit family with your partner and kids? Different options for different kinds of people.

Car sharing is time-saving

You are never burdened with time-wasting practical or administrative matters, such as buying insurance, maintenance, cleaning, or inspection. With most car-sharing systems you have to do little or nothing yourself. So you can spend the rest of the time getting to where you have to be.

Car sharing is good for the environment

When you don’t own a car, you are forced to think more consciously about other options for getting around (on foot, by bicycle, shared scooters, public transport, etc.) Car sharers drive fewer kilometers, which means they limit their CO2 emissions.

A shared car quickly replaces 5 to 10 private cars. This means more space in your street for kids to play or do something fun.

Car sharing is a way of making friends and is inclusive

You can share a car with your neighbors, which gives you a lot of new social contacts. A private car is not affordable for everyone. Car sharing offers people who can’t afford cars the opportunity to use them from time to time.

The future of the shared car in the Netherlands

The question is whether the phenomenon of car sharing is here to stay. Its growth in popularity in the Netherlands shows that car sharing certainly has potential. Market researchers expect that a maximum of one million potential users will enter the car-sharing market in the next five years.

READ MORE| Car Versus Public Transit: Why are Public Transport Costs Rising So Fast?

Car sharing can become much more popular if governments make it less attractive to own a car. The pandemic and lockdown have shown that the fewer cars we have on our roads, the better. Car sharing is the future and if we truly care about the environment we need to make it a way of life. Quickly.

Have you ever used car sharing and what do you think about it? Let us know in the comments. 

Feature Image: Cottonbro/Pexels

Chuka Nwanaziahttps://www.beejonson.com/
A renegade wordsmith, freelance writer, poet, and digital marketer based in Amsterdam. Besides writing, he extremely enjoys traveling around Europe in search of old and rare books, writing poems while riding the train to nowhere, performing at poetry events, spending too much time reading books, contemplating the meaning of life, preparing tasty dishes and desserts, and searching for the perfect bookshelf.

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