One of the most remarkable developments of the 21st century global marketplace is the rapid growth and evolution of the sharing economy. Today, ordinary people can rent, short-term, everything from luxury handbags to high-end homes to powerboats to designer pets to musical instruments. And also cars. BCG has researched the potential growth of the car-sharing market and estimated its impact on new-car sales in 2021. We found that although car sharing will expand relatively quickly and widely, it will have only a minimal effect on new-car sales, both because most drivers will not forgo car ownership entirely and because some share of lost car sales will be partially offset by sales into car-sharing fleets in large urban areas.
The trend toward car sharing should nonetheless make automotive OEMs consider reconceiving their mission, at least in part. While continuing to serve as manufacturers and distributors of personally owned vehicles, OEMs should also experiment with providing mobility services and devise new business models accordingly. Manufacturers can set up units to provide vehicles to consumers on an as-needed basis, substituting a stream of fee income for sales revenues. At the same time, this can give them access to potential customers who might buy a car at some point in the future.
In this report, we examine the development of the car-sharing market and quantify the economic impact of the shift to shared vehicles.