Today in Green IT: Will car sharing disrupt big auto?


The relationship between car sharing companies and automotive manufacturers bears scrutiny, says GigaOM Pro analyst Adam Lesser in his weekly column (subscription required). Studies are emerging and show, not shockingly, that car sharing programs reduce vehicle ownership. Which raises the basic question: does car sharing present a long-term problem to the automotive industry by showing consumers that renting a car on demand, whenever they need it, is a better experience than car ownership?

The current answer is no, which may be part of the reason the industry isn’t fighting car sharing the way the hotel lobby is fighting vacation sharing company Airbnb. If anything, the automotive industry is moving quickly to compete in the car sharing market, viewing the space as a strategic investment. Daimler has rolled out its own car sharing company, Car2Go, in Austin and Vancouver; BMW announced DriveNow in March; and Volkswagen trials Quicar in Hanover, Germany, this fall. To read the rest of Adam’s thoughts, check out his column.

Other things Adam is reading and writing about this week:

  • Suntech sees China gaining from falling solar prices: The CEO of giant solar producer Suntech Holdings sees 24 months of oversupply in the market before supply and demand stabilize. He forecasts that China will surpass Germany by 2015 as the largest market for solar.
  • REC considers permanently closing some Norway production: Amid slumping prices for wafers and cells, Norway’s REC is exploring shutting its Norway production. The company has silicon materials plants in Washington state and Montana.
  • The cash-back car: NRG wants to buy electricity from EV owners: NRG Energy has bought a license to an aggregator technology that interfaces between individuals and energy wholesalers. The idea behind vehicle-to-grid technology is that drawing power from EVs will stabilize the grid and reduce costs for the utilities. The barriers are that EVs need bidirectional power supplies and automakers would have to agree not to void the battery warranty, should drivers connect their batteries to the grid.

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