Is it bad economy or is it the Carpooling explosion in Italy?

“Italy has become Europe’s weakest major car market with declining sales across the region as a whole.” This was reported in the Automotive News Europe website. New car sales in Italy declined by 26.7 percent in March this year and by 20.9 percent in the quarter.
While the experts may attribute this slowing trend to the bad and sluggish economy, the reality is that rising fuel prices, higher insurance premiums and taxes discourage people to not only reduce their private car use and ownership but also cause (read Italians) to switch to more sustainable means of transport such as carpooling, car sharing and buses and trains. This year, the number of passengers using public transport rose by about 30 percent in cities such as Milan, Rome and Turin.
Not exactly a great news for car makers but that is the eventuality that car makers need to come to terms with. Sustainable transport is not about making and selling personal use cars – it is about transporting people from point A to point B and car sharing and carpooling platforms fulfill that need quite comprehensively.
Carpooling.com (http://www.carpooling.com), the world’s largest ridesharing network, reported a 76% increase in rides in Italy compared to last year.
Below is a brief of the latest release of the mobility trends in Italy:

Mobile, Social and Local: How Italians are redefining mobility

“Rising fuel prices, smart phone technology and increased environmental sensibility are all factors encouraging Italians to find smart mobility options,” says Markus Barnikel, CEO of carpooling.com.

According to Barnikel, support from local government and grass-roots organisations has been a key influencer fueling the growth of carpooling in Italy. Governmental organisations and mobility agencies in Parma, Piacenza and Bolzano are leading the way by encouraging carpooling in their local communities.  

Carpooling.it (the company’s Italian platform) also recently announced a partnership with Corrente in Movimento (CIMO) – an Italian association that promotes the use of electric cars and supports the development of sustainable mobility. This year, from May-October, the organisation plans a green trip around Italy to encourage public discussion of smart cities, renewable energy and pollution. “We are really very happy to be a sponsor of CIMO.

Corrente in Movimento is a great initiative to help inform people about the advantages of sustainable mobility and to show them how they can travel greener and cheaper” says Daniela Mililli, Product Manager of carpooling.it. 

With more than 1 billion cars in the world, traffic congestion is becoming an increasingly problematic issue – causing significant fuel wastage, increased pollution and costing billions to the world economy. Countries like Italy show us that economic challenges can be a great opportunity to start finding smarter, cheaper and greener solutions.

But on the flip side, when I look at India and the explosion of personal use cars happening all across, the car makers have found the burgeoning demand in the developing countries to keep their business growth going – the costs and problems haven’t yet disappeared, they have just moved around to someplace else!

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Comments

  1. That is great news! Although I do not enjoy hearing that any part of an economy is struggling, like you said, “that is the eventuality that car makers need to come to terms with”. The same goes for oil, natural gas and coal companies. It would be very beneficial for these types of companies to see the needed transition and to adapt themselves rather than fight tooth-and-nail to maintain the status-quot.

    You also mentioned the growing use of personal transportation in India. I wonder if a preemptive investment in excellent public transit would help slow that growth. Get people hooked on public transit before cars become a problem as they are in developed countries. It would be great to have the developing countries learn from our mistakes rather than repeat them!

    • Thanks for your comment. Urban mobility is a big challenge in the bigger cities of India and inspite of commuters taking to newly built metro trains, the mass exodus of the population from the tier2/3 cities is neutraizing any impact that any sustainable means of transport is having.
      Cars are already a big problem in India with massive market for used cars and no scheme for end-of-life vehicles….so much so that an end of life of a car in the city will find its new life in a village. In a way it’s good that life of the vehicles get prolonged, but then we got all those old cars still on the road (in cities where emissions aren’t as strict) and the new ones coming in.
      Last time I heard. Ford was looking at mass transportation systems and not just cars!

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