AN INVENTION FROM THE 1950s
The first car sharing organization, the Owner Drivers Cooperative (die Selbstfahrergenossenschaft), was established in the 1950s in Zurich. Intended journeys were recorded beforehand in a notebook that was kept in a lockable box located near the car park.
The first small car sharing groups were established in Germany at the beginning of the 1990s. At this time the internet was unknown and reservations were made by telephone through hotel reception desks or security companies which were manned 24 hours a day. The car key was located in a small wall safe near the parking space. All users had a key to this wall safe. For every journey an invoice docket was filled out.
500,000 users benefit from the use of the modern information technology.
At the turn of the millennium SmartCards were employed to unlock cars. When a booking was made, you received a code with which you could open the car for each individual journey. An onboard unit transmitted the code by SMS to the headquarters which released the vehicle. Invoice dockets were still being filled out at this time.
Today reservations over the internet are the norm, as are automated transmission of the user’s data from the car to the headquarters.
In the last few years free floating car sharing has developed alongside the classic car-sharing model where cars are located at fixed stations. In the free floating model cars can be left at any desired car park or roadside after they have been used. Users who wish to begin a journey have to find out where a car is located in their vicinity. The car sharing headquarters records the location of all of their vehicles via GPS. The smartphone shows the user the nearest cars that can be reserved and used. The continual development of the information technology ensures constantly improving user friendliness. Car sharing could thereby become a one of a kind success story, in which over 500,000 users have benefited by now.