Saturday, November 05, 2005

Higher Gas Prices Spur Carsharing Membership

All the carshares I've talked to have been reporting very strong membership growth during 2005. Zipcar CEO, Scott Griffith, reports that they're taking in 3,000 new members per month (in all cities), and have experienced a 30% increase in signups since August, when gas prices started to climb, according to a recent Boston Herald article.

Higher gas prices certainly help draw a car owner's attention to the possibility of alternatives, including carsharing, for at least some of their trips. Marketing by carshares emphasizing "free gas" certainly takes advantage of this new awareness. Here's an ad appearing on buses in Seattle that includes Flexcar as one of the alternatives.

A recent study by GfK NOP, an international consulting firm specializing in consumer research (GfK stands for Growth from Knowledge), identifies the price thresholds at which Americans say they will alter their lifestyles to save on gas, including carpooling; using public transportation; walking, biking or using other forms of transportation; reducing overall driving, using their most fuel efficient vehicle; and buying a more fuel efficient vehicle.

The GfK NOP Green Guage study, based on in-home interviews with 2000 people, reports that 25% of people surveyed would consider alternatives at $3 per gallon. We're there in many parts of the country and apparently they are considering alternatives.

Lifestyle changes consumers will make based on the price per gallon of gas
(from GfK NOP 2005 Green Gauge Report)

                             $3.00/   $3.50/   $4.00/   $5.00+/
gal gal gal gal
Drive Your Most Fuel
Efficient Vehicle 35% 44% 50% 57%
Immediately Purchase a
More Fuel Efficient
Vehicle 27% 40% 54% 71%
Reduce Overall Driving 34% 47% 56% 65%
Walk/Bike More and Other
Forms of Transportation 24% 38% 49% 64%
Use Public Transportation 16% 26% 40% 59%
Carpool 25% 38% 49% 66%

Based on the Percentage of Consumers Owning at Least One Vehicle
Numbers are Cumulative

Below is a link to the GfK NOP press release about the study.