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HomeGerman FinanceWhy you should think of car sharing now!

Why you should think of car sharing now!

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Car sharing is driving without the hassle. Find out why it’s becoming popular in Germany

Renting a car flexibly, known as car sharing, is often cheaper and more convenient than having your own car in larger cities. You only pay when you really need the vehicle. The provider takes care of refueling and washing, TÜV and inspection.

The appeal for car sharing in Germany

  • Car sharing is practical: You don’t have to worry about the TÜV and inspection, you don’t have to take out parking tickets and you don’t have to refuel yourself.
  • Car sharing is worthwhile if you do not depend on a car every day and drive less than around 10,000 kilometers a year. 
  • Cars without fixed stations (“free floating”) are ideal for spontaneous trips and short distances. The vehicles can be opened with a smartphone or a customer card.
  • Providers with fixed stations are cheaper for planned outward and return journeys with stopping times. They are available in more than 500 cities in Germany.
  • For long journeys or periods of time, however, a rental car is the best choice.

How do you get started with car sharing in Germany?

  • Register with several car sharing companies and choose the right provider depending on the route and availability. Use tariffs without a basic fee at the beginning.
  • A good start for city dwellers is the flexible car sharing from Car2go and Drivenow.
  • Car sharing with fixed stations is also available in smaller locations. The largest provider with more than 800 stations in 200 cities is Flinkster.
  • Check whether there are other stationary car sharing providers in your area. Numerous smaller companies are also active in this area. The map of the Federal Association of Carsharing provides a good overview.
  • If you get by with car sharing, you can save hundreds of euros a year by getting rid of your own car.

Car sharing available in almost 600 cities and towns

car sharing

According to the Federal Association of Carsharing, there were car sharing offers from around 150 companies in almost 540 German cities and municipalities at the beginning of 2016. At the beginning of 2017, there were already almost 600 places where flexible car rental is offered.

The big names in the industry like Flinkster, Cambio and Stadtmobil, for example, each have cars in more than 100 cities. There are several companies and a well-developed network in the metropolitan regions and larger cities.

Various current car models are available to users. So, you can also take a convertible or try out an electric car. Often you can drive in several cities with one registration.

If you do not have to rely on a car every day and drive less than around 10,000 kilometers a year, it can be worth doing away with your own car and relying on a means of transport consisting of car sharing and, for example, bicycles, trains, long-distance buses, rental cars and taxis. Modern mobility apps such as Qixxit from Deutsche Bahn show which modes of transport are available for a certain route. Of course, you can also use car sharing to supplement your private car.

With stations or completely flexible

Car sharing offers differ mainly in whether the cars are available at certain locations or whether they are flexibly distributed throughout the city. Providers with fixed stations have been around for decades. The flexible car sharing providers are relatively new: Car2go from Daimler and Europcar and Drivenow from BMW and Sixt.

In Germany, Drivenow is available in Berlin, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Cologne and Munich, and Car2go is also available in Frankfurt am Main and Stuttgart.

In the 2016 ADAC car sharing test, Car2go achieved an average grade of 1.7. Drivenow achieved a straight 2. In the study by the magazine “test” (issue 7/2015) Car2go and Drivenow each received a grade of 2.1.

The numerous other cars sharing providers have fixed parking spaces for their vehicles or a specific area where the cars are picked up and where they are returned. For example, the market leader Flinkster, a subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn, has more than 800 stations where vehicles of different categories are available.

Car2go Drivenow
Provider
Daimler, Europcar
BMW, Sixt
Grade ADAC / “test”
1.7 / 2.1
2 / 2.1
One-time registration fee
€ 9
€ 29
Standard price per minute: driving / intermediate parking
€ 0.24 to € 0.34 / € 0.19
€ 0.31 to € 0.34 plus € 1 fixed price per trip / € 0.15
Reduced fare for prepayment
No
at best € 0.28 / minute
Reward for filling up / recharging
10 free minutes if tank <25% beforehand
30 free minutes if the tank / battery is <25% beforehand
Cities (Germany and neighboring countries)
Amsterdam, Berlin, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Cologne, Munich, Stuttgart, Vienna
Berlin, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Cologne, Copenhagen, Munich, Vienna
Vehicles
Smart, Mercedes
BMW, Mini
Deductible
500 € (Smart), 1000 € (Mercedes)
€ 350

Flexible car sharing for spontaneous trips

Vehicles from Car2go and Drivenow are distributed all over the city. Customers can see where the cars are on the website or via the app. For example, the Free2move app (called Carjump until the beginning of 2017) shows several providers at once.

Customers can reserve the cars a short time in advance or spontaneously get in and drive off. When they arrive at their destination, the drivers simply leave the car and end the rental – provided they don’t leave the business area. The provider pays for the parking fees.

However, if the customer drives to shop, for example, and parks the car in the supermarket parking lot without releasing it, he pays a certain price per minute for the parking time.

This type of car sharing, also known as “free floating” or station-independent, is very flexible. There are numerous vehicles in the center of the big cities, so you can usually reach a car in a few minutes on foot.

This is how you press the price and get free minutes

The regular minute price of the flexible car sharing providers is not set in stone. At Drivenow you can cut the price by booking a quota of minutes and paying in advance. You can then use up these minutes little by little. However, the credit would be gone if the provider went bankrupt. But that is extremely unlikely because it is backed by large automotive groups. With prepayment minutes you can reduce the price at Drivenow to 28 cents.

A second option are tariffs with a monthly basic fee that contain a certain amount of driving minutes. If the month is not used, the minutes expire. Drivenow, for example, offers such tariffs under the name “Spar-Paket”. For example, you can get 125 minutes per month for 34.99 euros – that’s 28 cents per minute instead of 31 cents. The disadvantage of such packages is obvious: If you don’t use the minutes they contain, you’ve paid too much. This creates the incentive to drive more than necessary.

Stationary car sharing for planning and saving

Car sharing with fixed stations is also available outside the metropolises in smaller cities. Here customers always know where the cars are if they are not rented out. At the end of the rental period, the car must be parked in its parking space.

One advantage of station-based offers is that customers can reserve the vehicles some time in advance. This enables planning security. And because the car often has a reserved parking space, there is no need to look for a parking space. However, there are also providers with so-called parking areas, where customers park their cars and have to look for a parking space themselves.

When making a reservation, customers must also indicate when they will be returning the car. If the journey takes longer, drivers should try to extend the booking in good time. If the car is already booked afterwards, an extension is not possible and a penalty will apply.

Therefore, plan the booking period a little more generously and bring the car back a little earlier. The provider Flinkster, for example, reimburses half of the price for unused time. In the event of a delay, however, he will charge up to 50 euros extra.

Car sharing providers with fixed stations include Cambio, Flinkster, Greenwheels and Stadtmobil.

The largest stationary car sharing provider is Flinkster from Deutsche Bahn: There are Flinkster stations in more than 200 cities. The test of Stiftung Warentest in July 2015 won Flinkster with an overall score of 1.7. The ADAC awarded the grade “Good”.

Find the right local provider yourself

With stationary car sharing, it depends on whether a station is near you. If you have to drive there for a long time, the advantage can be gone. The map of the Federal Carsharing Association offers a good overview.

Tip: combine offers

The flexible providers Car2go and Drivenow are best suited for shorter journeys without a return trip or for spontaneous trips. Stationary providers are cheaper for planning trips there and back and longer parking times.

Register with several car sharing providers and choose the one that best suits the purpose and route. If you need a car for more than a day, compare rental car offers.

Private car sharing can be an alternative

In addition to commercial providers, there is also private car sharing via online platforms such as Drivy, Snappcar or Getaway. Private individuals offer their cars here. The vehicle owners set the prices themselves.

The offer includes additional insurance, which is usually billed at a flat rate. Because these fees are added to the actual rental price, private car sharing for short distances is not necessarily cheaper than a commercial offer. And for long journeys or a weekend trip, a rental car can be cheaper.

However, private car sharing can still be worthwhile in certain cases, for example for spontaneous day trips when no commercial provider is available or the stations are unfavorable. In addition, private individuals sometimes offer certain enthusiast cars, for example vintage cars. Such vehicles are not available from commercial providers and can be an incentive to use private car sharing.


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Michelle Halterman
USA, China, South Africa and now Munich - Michelle has come a long way in the world. She is an outdoor person and loves to be in nature with friends and on her mountain bike. Or she meets up with friends for pasta, vino, cappaccino & Co.
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