car sharing services from a customer point of view

The state of shared mobility: Car sharing in 2024

The world of travel and mobility is broad and entails anything that brings you from A to B. In essence, travel and mobility touches every single person's physical and digital life. It is not a coincidence that many of our clients are in this field, because where the physical meets the digital is where thrives best. For us thriving is learning, and learning is sharing.

For this reason we started our Shared Mobility Research in the Netherlands and Belgium a year ago. We leveraged our knowledge in the field of shared mobility, combined it with our proven way of working and curiosity and launched our first report: The state of shared mobility: Bike sharing in 2023 in January, followed by our second report in July: The state of shared mobility: Moped sharing in 2023. Both reports follow the way of working where we perform qualitative and quantitative research in real life in order to pinpoint something we call moments that matter. We believe it is our job as creators to do whatever we can to make sure that our creations are meaningful to people, so in our day-to-day projects we are passionate about building the right product right for our clients and their audience. For this research we mostly focus on enriching our knowledge of the field of shared mobility and give this knowledge back to you.

In our approach we translated insights into moments that matter from our desk research, field research (where we performed 16 field tests for 8 different shared car services) and our leverage point session into results, which we validated with 28 respondents in our market research.

Fasten your seatbelts and let's hit the road together!


field tests


shared car services


Surveys filled in



Shared cars have been introduced many years ago, with the first project introduced in Amsterdam as early as the 1970s with something called the Witkar project. Though it did not really succeed at that moment, the idea did get a boost when in the 1990s the Dutch government started stimulating the concept of shared cars. They believed it to have great potential to contribute to the reduction of personal car use and the carbon emission. With their launch in 1995 it was Greenwheels that put car sharing on the map in the Netherlands. The actual use has been increasing since its introduction and we now see multiple brands available in our streets, with different rules of use and different options to choose from.

The global car sharing market has seen significant growth in recent years, and is set to reach $35.2 billion by 2030. In the Netherlands alone the amount of cars available for sharing has increased by 23% in 2023, this means there are currently 7.920 shared cars available today and almost half of these cars are electric cars (roundtrip, community based, free-floating en keyless Peer-to-Peer). This same source shows an increase in the amount of people who use a car sharing service in one year from 4% to 7%. In larger cities like Utrecht and Amsterdam this percentage is even higher. According to kennisplatform CROW, this growth has multiple reasons. Besides the fact that technology is improving rapidly and thus opening new experiences for people, a lot of people are more aware of the various options in mobility. At the same time, operators are equipping cities with larger fleets and municipalities are recognising car sharing as a valuable addition to pre-existing public transport infrastructure.

At the same time we see that though there may be more shared cars available today, this says little about the usage of these cars. The Kennisinstituut voor Mobiliteitsbeleid (the KiM) explains that in recent years shared cars make up just 0,02% of all the car movements in the Netherlands, and that this percentage has not increased since 2014. So we are seeing more shared cars, but not more movements. The KiM cites cost as a reason to find alternatives for car sharing services by new users.

Digital solutions play a key role in the user experience of car sharing. A digital solution, like apps or booking websites, can be the connection between the user and the car, and can either stimulate or demotivate (frequent) usage. By looking at the service from a human centred perspective, pinpointing something we call moments that matter, we are able to really understand people and their needs and habits. Moments that matter are interactions and touchpoints in the (in this case) traveller's journey that have the biggest impact on their experience. When these moments are smooth and bring a positive and helpful experience to the user, it will silently enrich people's lives resulting in a connection with the product or service.



We conducted a qualitative study where we translated insights from our desk research, field research (where we performed 16 field tests for 8 different shared cars services in the Netherlands in 9 different cities) together with deep dive interviews with people that either do or don’t use (by choice) these car sharing services, and the analysis of 28 filled in questionnaires about the topic. Our participants either had their own car or did not own a car. They have been testing Sixt Share, MyWheels, SnappCar, Lynk&Co, ShareNow, Greenwheels, Check and Inqar cars in cities mostly located in the Randstad or surrounding cities: Amsterdam, Weesp, Haarlem, The Hague, Rotterdam, Delft, Utrecht, Zandvoort and Woerden.

Car sharing types

Looking at shared car services, we have started our research understanding the differences in this service, we have defined 5 different types of car sharing:

  • Roundtrip for car sharing:
    This type of sharing is station based, which means that users can pick up and return their shared vehicles at the same location. An example is Greenwheels, where you pick up your shared car from a specific station, a parking spot, and you return it at the exact location for the next person to use it.
  • One-way car sharing:
    Though still a station based option, any users can pick up a shared vehicle from one parking spot and drop it off at another. So the location can be different from the pick up location, sometimes even in different cities. MyWheels for example offers this type of service.
  • Free-floating car sharing:
    This solution is a bit more flexible as there are no dedicated stations for the vehicles but users can locate and pick up a shared vehicle nearby via the app, park it anywhere (or anywhere where the zone allows it) and leave it for the next user. Sixt Share, Check, and ShareNow offer this type of service.
  • Peer-to-peer car sharing:
    This is a solution where users pick up a vehicle from a private car owner or lease driver who has decided to rent their car through an app. A provider like SnappCar allows you to let your car be used by other people by paying you for the service. The same can be done if you lease a car from Lynk&Co, as you can make your leased car available to other people via the app.
  • Renting:
    Renting a car is also a form of car sharing, granted it is a more classical, well-known form. Many people associate rental cars with more leisurely activities like vacations where you usually pick up a car at a specific location like an airport or a brand shop. Also the rental duration is most likely to be for a longer period of time and the pricing model can be quite flexible.

Let's dig into them!



Research insights

By combining field research, deep-dive interviews and the data from questionnaires filled in right after trying the car services, we were able to generate:

  • A list of scenario based motivations to use shared cars;
  • A list of user experience findings, organised in pains and gains.

Car sharing is a service used by people who do not own a car, but there are also people who do own a car that make use of the service. Our research shows several scenarios for using a shared car:

  • For quick errands and last minute plans:
    Unplanned, short rental periods, mostly in a hurry, flexible, cost is less important, mostly one way, short to longer distances.
    Shared cars are perfect for short trips within the city. Whether you need to pick up groceries or run a quick errand, it offers the flexibility and convenience for such tasks without the commitment of owning a car. Shared cars facilitate spontaneous outings or sudden plans, like a sudden dinner date or a last minute ride. The on-demand availability caters to immediate travellers needs.
  • For completing public transport journeys:
    Planned, short to longer rental periods, no hurry, cost is less important, one way and return trip, short to longer distances.
    Shared cars can be a complement to existing public transportation, filling gaps in connectivity or providing last mile solutions where public transport might be less accessible or time-consuming.
  • For commuting and business travels:
    Planned, long rental periods, no hurry, cost is less important, mostly return trips, longer distances.
    When public transport is not an option, shared cars provide an alternative to reach specific destinations or to save time when needing to go to multiple destinations. Shared cars can be an alternative for business travellers needing transportation for short trips.
  • For weekend escapes:
    Planned, long rental periods, no hurry, choice made with costs in mind, always return trips, longer distances.
    For weekend or short trips, shared cars offer the freedom of mobility without the need for owning a vehicle. Users can access a car for the duration they need, making trips outside the city more accessible.
  • For special occassions:
    Unplanned, short rental periods, mostly in a hurry, flexible, cost is less important, mostly one way, short to longer distances.
    Shared cars can be handy for special occasions like moving homes or transporting large items, providing access to vehicles like trucks or vans when needed for a short period.
  • For visiting new cities or during holidays
    Unplanned, short to longer rental periods, no hurry, flexible, cost is less important, mostly one way, short to longer distances.
    Visitors to a city or tourists exploring a new area find shared cars useful for flexible and convenient travel, allowing them to explore places not easily accessible by public transport.
  • For replacing an owned car:
    Planned, short to longer rental periods. no hurry, choice made with costs in mind, one way and return trip, short to longer distances.
    Shared cars can be a good replacement for an owned car that is broken or in repair and can offer a good solution for continuing daily routines without interruption. They can also be a replacement to the second owned car, allowing households to own one car without losing the flexibility of a second car when they need it.

User needs and priorities per scenario

We can group the recurring pains that our participants experienced during the tests as follows:

  • Availability and accessibility:
    Participants have faced challenges in finding available cars, especially during peak hours or in high-demand areas. Additionally, the distance to the nearest available car from their location can sometimes be a pain point. This takes away from spontaneous, more on-demand use of the car sharing service and requires planning, for many this makes it a hurdle in their flow. One participant wanted to use a ShareNow vehicle and got frustrated: “There was a car available when I checked an hour before, but it was gone when I wanted to use it. The closest one was a 10 minute walk away. I chose to use a MyWheels instead, as it was across my building and I needed to make a round-trip anyway.” This participant was fortunate to live in a street where there were multiple brands available. Another wasn’t as lucky and decided to reserve some extra time to be sure to have the shared car available when they needed it, they chose to use a MyWheels: “I wanted to be sure to have the car when I needed it, but I didn’t know the exact time I had to leave. So I ended up reserving it for more time than I actually needed it. I wonder if I am paying for this reserved time?”.
    A different perspective on availability came from a participant trying to reserve a Lynk&Co car, though they chose and “booked” the car, they had to wait quite some time before getting a confirmation to use the car from its owner: “after the booking I had to wait for quite an amount of time for confirmation of the owner; so at that point I still was not sure whether the car was mine. The confirmation arrived a few hours after I made the booking, but I had no idea of whether this would happen or not and how long it might take to receive it.”
  • Cleanliness and maintenance of the vehicle:
    A lot of participants encountered cars that weren't as clean or well-maintained as expected. Issues like cleanliness, odours or messiness have quite an impact on the overall experience: “My MyWheels car was definitely not clean, I even found a potato fry in the back seat”. That same participant used a ShareNow: “The car was filled with leaves on the inside, there was a plastic bottle left next to the driver's seat. The outside was covered in dirt, which made it harder to check if there was any damage”.
    This has an impact on the experience. Our participants felt uncomfortable about the fact that the vehicle was previously used by someone else and not handled hygienically.
  • Technical glitches:
    Our participants came across problems with the mobile app, such as glitches during the booking process, difficulties unlocking the car, or issues with payment. They were perceived as frustrating, and for some even stressful. One of the participants was unable to activate the reservation of their Greenwheels, and got an error message. It was unclear what the issue was and why the reservation did not come through: “I was standing outside in the cold next to the car and had no choice but to call customer service, it took about 15 minutes to solve my problem. I had no alternative to travel to my destination, and I was a little stressed if I would make it to my appointment.”
    Technical issues can happen at any time, one participant experienced it during the onboarding flow when they needed to upload their driver's licence: “When trying to get a MyWheels car, my licence wasn't accepted. The error message stayed there for almost 2 weeks, without any information about what to do next. I ended up creating a new account to connect my licence again with a different email, and it worked then. The system did not tell me how to solve the issue.”
  • The unexpected steps in the process:
    Many participants had to deal with unexpected steps in the flow of getting their car. They expected to be able to drive right away, but suddenly there were extra steps they did not anticipate. One of the most heard extra hurdles was a damage check required before being able to drive. One participant said: “For ShareNow I got a list of issues I had to check, it was not visual, just a list in words, one said flat tire, but the tire wasn’t flat. It was very confusing, I didn’t understand how to check the list and it stressed me out. Next time I need to add in some extra time”.
    When going through the onboarding process for Greenwheels one participant was under the assumption that they had done all the steps to start riding. When trying to reserve the car they said: “I had to pay some kind of deposit of €100,-, it was unclear to me what it was, very unexpected and it stopped me from moving forward”.
  • Cost:
    One of the most mentioned elements that people would change about car sharing services is cost. This applies to all the different aspects of cost, such as deposit, unexpected fees and cost per minute.
    For some people car sharing services can be a cheaper alternative to owning a car, but interestingly most services are felt like expensive by users. Two things play a major role. First of all, the cost per ride is very visible, and is immediately out of pocket. This means that instead of a monthly fee encompassing all your car costs, most car sharing services show you exactly what a ride costs you. Second, unexpected costs play a role in the perception of high cost. Some car sharing brands require a one-time deposit, the amount varies from €25 to €250. When you get the deposit back depends on the provider and is not always clear, it can be after every ride or even after you have cancelled your subscription. One of the participants had this experience with Greenwheels: “I just got the invoice from Greenwheels today. I found out that I won't get my deposit back until after I cancel my subscription (I didn't know I had a subscription at all). The subscription cannot be cancelled until January 6. The deposit will then be refunded after 8 weeks. This means I won't get my 100 euros back until March 6 at the earliest, shocking. This information came to me only after I contacted customer service!” This led to the participant cancelling their subscription and delete the Greenwheels app.

Next to points of improvement, participants were positive about many parts of car sharing:

  • Mobility on-demand:
    The on-demand nature of shared cars provides convenience and flexibility to users, allowing people to access vehicles precisely when needed without the commitment of ownership. “I love the fact that I have a MyWheels car parked in my street, it almost feels like it is my car but without the hurdle of owning one!”. Another participant said: “I got rid of my car almost two years ago, I live in the city centre of Amsterdam and in my street alone there is always a MyWheels, ShareNow and Greenwheels available. If I want a compact car, an electric car or a bigger car I have the option to choose whatever I want.”
    The shared cars are perceived as complementary to public transportation, offering a more flexible option for travel within cities, particularly in areas with limited public transport connectivity.
  • Variety of options and scenario driven use:
    Some users appreciate the variety of vehicles available within shared car services, allowing them to choose different car types depending on their needs. “What I liked about Sixt Share is the fact you can choose between different types of car available. Do you need to quickly go somewhere? The BMW i3 is perfect for that. But do you need to pick up something you bought and you need a bit more spacious vehicle? You can opt for bigger models if available around you. Extremely handy!”
  • Pay per use and cost savings:
    For short trips or occasional use, shared cars can be more cost-effective than owning a car, as users only pay for the time they use the vehicle without worrying about maintenance or insurance costs, as we have mentioned before in the report. “I don’t often need a car ride, or at least not enough to own one,  as I live in the city centre. What I like about using a shared car, being ShareNow or MyWheels depending on the availability, is the fact that I feel I’m paying for the ride and not for the object itself.”
  • Environmental impact:
    Using shared cars aligns with sustainability goals, especially when shared car services include electric or low-emission vehicles, reducing carbon footprint compared to traditional car ownership. “I live in Amsterdam, and I made the conscious decision not to own a car. I know about the impact that cars have on the environment, and I’m afraid that owning one would make it easier for me to use it more often even for things that I could easily do by bike. The fact that there are so many Sixt Share available around the city makes it easy for me to still have the comfort of a car ride when needed, but still feeling like I’m participating in a greener city.”



One thing has been very clear from our research: the first impression is a very important stimulans whether to stop using (a specific brand of) car sharing or become a recurring user.
We have seen that first time use is a key moment in every traveller's journey; it can be the first time a shared car service is used at all, it can also be the first time a different brand is used for car sharing, you may know Greenwheels, and are now trying out MyWheels. First time use can also be that you know a brand, but use a different product, one of our participants was already using the Check moped sharing service and now tried the Check car. 

Either way, every glitch or frustration that happens during the first time use will not be forgiven and demotivates a second, third or recurring time use. The customer has not yet committed to the brand or service, and has no hesitation to let it go if it does not meet expectations. This means that car sharing brands need to be ahead of the game and be aware of the moments that matter

Our research has shown four moments that matter in car sharing, where the digital solution can be a main driver optimising user experience. It is where the main connection between the driver and the vehicle is made and can therefore be a great tool to improve experience. 

The four moments that matter are:


App onboarding and account activation

Anticipate solutions to known issues
Understanding and acting upon known (and recurring) early obstacles is key to enhancing the user experience and ensuring a smoother transition in shared mobility. By leveraging user insights and preferences, digital platforms can craft personalised onboarding experiences, guiding first time users through the service functionalities, vehicle access and key features, and therefor easing their entry into the service.
It might even be interesting to consider adding a different flow for first time users. This might help them feel guided through the flow, anticipating possible issues, eventually resulting in less frustration for the user and service calls for the brand. Or fully utilise offline help and have a special hotline ready to answer any specific first time use issues to let the users feel supported during their first time use. 


Trip planning and car availability

Enable proactive and contextual information
Informing the users with real-time updates on vehicle availability, nearby parking spots, tailored recommendations based on user behaviour or location, proactive notifications regarding traffic updates, or service disruptions, might further enrich the user's experience. This can ensure a seamless and informed journey with shared car services.
A nice addition might be adding a geolocation feature that notifies the user about the cars available in their area, any specific offer nearby, and the best locations to park the car. This same feature can notify the user in case the car they have reserved for an upcoming ride has been moved to another location, so they are pro-actively made aware that the car is not at the location they originally spotted the car and even give them the possibility to change or cancel their reservation if the new location is not convenient.
Even the implementation of interactive maps for navigation to pick up points can enrich the user experience, with information about how much time it will take to get there for example.
These kinds of proactive notifications would help the user feel guided and take some thinking tasks off of their plate.


Liability and damage check

Provide guidance before, during and after the ride
As mentioned earlier, liability has often been mentioned as a pain of car sharing usage by our participants. The surprise of the damage check and the feeling of not knowing if the checking process has been done right creates stress. Embedding more guidance within the service, such as step-by-step tutorials, easy access to FAQs sections and clear instructions for vehicle usage, makes the interaction with the shared car service more intuitive, efficient, and informed.
Applying some Design for Safety guidelines works well. For example, make sure that users are well informed about all the possible steps in the flow beforehand without surprising them with extra steps (like the already mentioned damage check). This will prevent them from feeling they have done something wrong without knowing it and keep worrying about possible fees that might be added after the ride is done


Parking and ending the trip

No loose ends
Another stressful moment in the journey is parking. The ending of the trip is one of the most mentioned moments by our participants. There is a layer of liability here as well, users want to be sure to park the vehicle properly to prevent fines and ending the trip without issues that follow them later.
It might be interesting to think about giving the possibility of ensuring a parking spot, allowing users to reserve parking spots in advance or integrating partnerships with parking facilities for dedicated shared car parking spaces.
Another idea could be to integrate parking tips and guidance for the users in the service, making these notifications contextual to the moment of parking, offering local tips or insights about parking regulations or preferred areas.
Parking fees are also a recurrent mentioned pain, as it is not always clear to users if they have to take care of them or not. If users have to pay themselves for the parking ticket, enabling them to make payments directly through the app or facilitating cashless transactions for parking fees might streamline the overall parking experience, and reduce the amount of time needed to end the trip.

Through these digital interventions, shared car services can evolve into personalised, user-centred solutions, prioritising convenience and optimising the overall user experience. Because when everything clicks from the get-go, people are more likely to keep coming back for more rides. 

It's not just about fixing problems, it's about building trust and making sure people feel good about using shared cars on a regular basis. Because when shared car services become as easy as hopping on a bike or catching a bus, that's when they become a real game-changer in how we all get around!

What's next

This research makes our shared mobility a trilogy... so far!

We have covered shared bikes, mopeds and cars. Parallel we published deep-dives like our recent article about scenario based design and parking HUB's. And we are not done with our deep-dives yet, we will continue to investigate, experience further and share these insights with you.

At the same time we have realised that combining all the results from our research, our knowledge from working with clients in travel & mobility and in datadriven digital product development is so valuable and complete, that we are able to share an overall view on the travel & mobility market.

That is why we are now focusing on our most complete insights report to this day, coming to you soon!