The past year and a half corona has been a time of great turmoil, also for ridesharing providers. The Federal Carsharing Association reports a drop in sales of up to 80% at the start of the pandemic. No wonder: in the morning, many employees did not have to drive to work by rental car because they could work from home. In the evening, those who wanted to party stayed at home. And then there was the fear of being infected with the coronavirus: I would rather ride a bike than in someone else’s car.
It was similar in both branches of the industry: so-called free floats such as market leader Share Now, where rental cars in major cities are picked up and parked anywhere. And service providers in stations, some of whom are also located outside urban areas. According to the federal association, it was particularly affected at the start of the pandemic: several threatened to close. The state government of Baden-Württemberg, for example, provided a rescue package worth 3.8 million euros for affected carpoolers in July 2020. Spokeswoman Anja Mentzel said the number of rentals cars at Share Now fell 56% in Berlin in March 2020 and 62% in Hamburg. Result: part of the fleet of more than ten thousand cars was temporarily closed. Employees had to go on short-time work during Corona’s first year. The company did not want to disclose how many of the 500 total employees it affected.
Since the easing, the situation of car-sharing providers has improved again. Many people avoid buses and trains and opt for a rental car to protect themselves from infections. And experience the offer in a whole new way: if you drive in an enclosed space, then at least on your own and with as little foreign aerosol as possible. According to the Federal Association, the number of users of all carpoolers in Germany increased by more than 25% in 2020 compared to the previous year to reach around 2.8 million. At Share Now, the number increased by 67% in Germany between April and October 2020, according to Mentzel. Across Europe, around half a million new riders have registered there since the start of 2020. This does not mean, however, that they have only driven one meter. Anyone who has just registered so far is considered a user. Share Now is operating profitably in more and more cities, but the company declined to comment on the exact numbers.