Sustainable economy is a big phrase today and for a good reason. People everywhere are trying to reduce their carbon footprint, and Europeans, with their small, efficient cars that travel light in terms of gas consumption, are among the champions. However, there is a step up from sustainable economy that does not even include the creation of new goods, but it does involve the appearance of a new service. Introducing shareconomy, a concept that involves the use of same goods and services by a community of people. One of the biggest examples is, without a doubt, carpooling, a term that conquers vast spaces at the speed of light, with European companies expanding all over the world.
How did carsharing – or carpooling – come into being?
While the term carpooling may sound hip and something that the Millennials must have come up with, carpooling in Europe actually existed even from the 1940s, right after the war. For four decades, carpooling remained an isolated phenomenon, and it was merely something done between friends, without a huge impact on the economy. However, during the 1990s, carpooling righteously became a structured service. In 1992, there were 600 cities around the world involved, with over 11,700 cars being used for carsharing, and over 350,000 people using the service. Over 60% of these numbers were for European carpooling. Today, the number of people using carpooling counts in millions, just a little something to think about.
To explain the term, carpooling stands for sharing of a car by two or more people who are from different households. Basically, they save on gasoline by riding together on longer or shorter trips, depending on their needs and preferences. Part of shareconomy, carpooling is gaining more ground today, as the biggest players on the European market, BlaBlaCar and Carpooling.com are continuing to invest in their infrastructure and are expanding beyond their natural borders.
Carpooling.com – short history
Carpooling.com is known as the first important ridesharing platform ever launched in Europe. Founded in 2001, in Munich, Germany, it started as a student project and it well developed from there. The first website was named mitfahrgelegenheit.de and it was offering people the ability to find someone in their area to share a ride with. A slow development continued until 2007, when mitfahrgelegenheit.de reached the number one position for carpooling in Germany.
It was only in 2011 that the old website was rebranded and named Carpooling.com, to reflect the international spread of the service. By that time, the service was present – besides Germany – in Austria, Switzerland, France, Italy, Poland, the UK, Spain and Greece. As of 2014, the service already had over 1.4 million people using it monthly, in 40 different countries.
Investments continue, and Carpooling.com expands with them. Last December, the service announced its launch in the US, to help people there engage in ridesharing, to save time and money. Their app, available in both Google Play and iOS’s App Store, helps for easy locating someone near you to share a ride with.
BlaBlaCar – taking over the world
BlaBlaCar is the largest ridesharing platform in Europe, and also an important international player. Founded in 2004, in Paris, France, just like Carpooling.com, it went from a service moderately present in its home country, in one of the biggest companies of the type on the planet. With 2 million people using the service every month, this is, undoubtedly, the future of carpooling as we know it.
The international spread is a thing of recent past, since from 2004 to spring 2013, the service was operated through a website called covoiturage.fr.
Important investments were pumped into the service, and the new name BlaBlaCar came into being. Expanding beyond the European borders, in Turkey and Russia, BlaBlaCar quickly started to make the headlines around the world.
As founders of the service say, the term BlaBlaCar was coined to illustrate the conversations often held by passengers as they share a ride. After all, carpooling is not only about saving money and gas, but also about making new friends.
The most important piece of news related to BlaBlaCar was just recently released. With the help of a staggering 100 million dollars investment, BlaBlaCar intends to make India its 14th marketplace. Why is BlaBlaCar focusing on the Indian market? While most Indians use trains and buses to commute from one place to another, these are not by far the most efficient ways of transportation. This is an opportunity for Indians owning a car to make a bit of money on the side, as they get paid for the rides they honor.
The BlaBlaCar app is available in Google Play and App Store, as of 2010.