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RP2021u2: Shifting from Entrenched Car Ownership to Car Usership

Project leader name: 
Dr Stephen Berry, UniSA
Project status: 
Project period: 
01/2019 to 04/2019

On a per capita basis, car ownership continues to rise from 153 passenger vehicles per 1,000 people in Australia in 1995 to 740 per 1000 people today. These high levels of ownership and exclusive car usage occur against the backdrop of a growing share economy with new transport operators such as BlaBlaCar, GoGet, Lyft, Uber and a myriad of share bike schemes entering the market. Car ownership clearly remains a deeply ingrained part of Australian society, locking consumers into high carbon emission mobility habits. A high 80% want to own their own car and have exclusive access. Worryingly this is highest amongst younger people.

Private ownership, and the limited capital available for many consumers, means that the Australian private car fleet is highly polluting, whilst alternative shared ownership structures allow higher value and lower polluting models to be utilised.  For example, higher cost hybrid and electric vehicles may find a quicker pathway to the market through shared ownership structures.

Awareness of alternative mobility arrangements including: vehicle subscription services; carpooling/ride sharing; and peer-to-peer car sharing is not the barrier as these are currently high. Yet the car subscription models, designed to appeal to a consumer that is used to customised, on-demand services, remain a small portion of the overall market.  Better understanding is needed of why people feel the need to own a car and how they can be encouraged to transition from an exclusive ownership model to ones of temporary and/or multiple ownership and/or shared usership. This project investigates this issue with the goal of identifying pathways to lower carbon mobility.

Publications related to this project

CRCLCL Project Reports

This research takes a in-depth look at the relationship people have with cars and their willingness to move away from a relationship of personal ownership.