Car-Sharing and Ride-Sharing Services in Germany
Last updated: 09 Jul 2020 / by Sam Williams
Germany is a country that has strong links to the automobile industry. Motoring generates around 20% of all revenue in Germany, and more than two-thirds of Germans have a car.
With such passion for motoring and more than 46 million cars registered in Germany, the roads are becoming increasingly crowded.
But there are alternative solutions. Car-sharing is becoming a viable option in Germany, and there are now more than 2.29 million registered users.
Ride-sharing is another possibility, a concept many people will be familiar with worldwide through services such as Uber.
If you plan on moving to Germany, becoming familiar with the different transport options will be necessary. We’re going to run through the pros and cons of car-sharing and ride-sharing plus where to find them.
Why Car-Share? The Pros and Cons
Germany isn’t the only country to promote car-sharing, nor was it the first company to offer it. However, car-sharing has a firm hold in German culture and has proven to be a popular option.
Exactly how it works depends on the precise car-sharing service you’re using (more about that below) but in general, the pros and cons are similar:
- You don’t need to take out car insurance
Much cheaper than buying your own car
- No need to find or pay for parking
- Easy to arrange
- More convenient than public transport
- No fuel costs
- Only pay for the journeys you take
- No maintenance or repair costs
- Liability for passenger injuries or loss
- Journeys take more planning
- Not available in every area
- Depending on the type of car-share, the standard of the vehicle may vary
Different Types of Car-Sharing
Although the concept of car-sharing is straightforward, there are different types available. Therefore, before you volunteer to sign up for car-sharing it’s important to be clear on what you agree to.
Here are the three main types of car-sharing you’ll find in Germany:
This is the most common type of car-sharing in Germany and the simplest.
You book your car ahead of when you need it, using either an app or an online website.
When it’s time to pick up your car, you go to the relevant station and collect it.
When you have finished with the car, it must be returned to the same station.
You can choose the station you want to use and the type of car when you’re making the booking.
The cost for this is relatively low, with an added mileage allowance payable on top of the basic fee.
Also known as free-floating car-sharing, this option offers much greater flexibility for a higher cost.
Each car “belongs” to a particular district and you can leave the car anywhere convenient within this region when you’re finished. You don’t need to return to a dedicated station.
The cars are scattered around the area, depending on where members have left them.
You can find cars by either searching on the app or might spot one while you’re out!
One particularly useful feature is the ability to find cars which are nearby. So, if you’re out and unexpectedly need a car, just log into the app and look for one nearby. Very easy – but also more expensive.
Private car-sharing (peer-to-peer car-sharing)
This is the far least common type of car-sharing in Germany and involves a private individual opting to let others use their car. It can be useful in more rural neighborhoods and is typically a very low cost.
You will find websites dedicated to bringing together the would-be renter and the car owner, and helping to facilitate an agreement.
It’s important to realize, however, that the standard of car may vary significantly. There’s no guarantee that cars will be of the same quality as a typical rental vehicle, and they won’t have been professionally inspected.
Companies Who Provide Car-Sharing Services
The availability of car-sharing depends on where you are in the country, but here are some leading providers:
Companies who are offering to facilitate private car-sharing (peer-to-peer car-sharing) include:
What is Ride-Sharing?
Although car-sharing provides a viable solution in many areas, you can opt to ride-share instead. Uber is a well-known example of ride-sharing, but it’s a situation that is more complicated in Germany than elsewhere. Although Uber has operated successfully in many countries, if you want to get an Uber in Germany, you will find it more difficult.
This is because Germany has more rules which lie in direct contradiction to the Uber business model. The idea of Uber and ridesharing is that you pick up a lift in the direction that the driver is traveling. They are not a licensed taxi but make their service available at a cost to anyone who needs it.
Of course, it does not work like that as most Uber drivers run it just like a taxi service instead. This has upset taxi drivers and has caused multiple complaints in the countries which Uber operates in. To complicate matters further, in Germany, it’s not possible to ferry passengers around for a fee unless you hold a chauffeuring license. Confused yet?!
For this reason, Uber doesn’t operate the same type of service in Germany that it does elsewhere and it is also not available in all German cities. Uber only covers a very limited geographical area and partners with taxi firms rather than individual drivers. This ensures that Uber are still compliant with German law.
Although Uber is the name that most people recognize, there are other ride-sharing companies in Germany. Some are almost indistinguishable from a regular taxi company, despite describing themselves as ridesharing, while others offer more innovative solutions.
You will need to check which services are available in the part of Germany you plan on moving to.
Companies Who Provide Ride-Sharing Services
Although there are undeniable difficulties with the concept of ride-sharing in Germany, you can still find companies that offer these services. As mentioned above, they’re not all available right across the country, so if you move, you’ll need to check the coverage in your new region.
Some of the best ride-sharing companies in Germany are:
This is closer to a traditional taxi service but it also doubles up as a ride-sharing app. Available in over 40 German cities, mytaxi is one of the biggest companies in Germany offering this service. As well as offering electronic payment, you’ll also be able to access fare previews, driver ratings and the opportunity for taxi-sharing.
Part of Volkswagen’s mobility division, MOIA launched in Hamburg in April 2019. If you live in Hamburg you can book a ride in an electric van to get to your destination. MOIA has ambitious plans to expand across German to more cities in the coming months.
CleverShuttle is far closer to what you might expect ride-sharing to be, and more similar to car-sharing than many of the other companies. Starting out in Munich in 2014, the concept was intended to link up two or more people traveling in the same direction. Using either a hydrogen-electric or battery-powered car, CleverShuttle is eco-friendly as well as economical. Drivers collect multiple passengers who can share the total cost of the journey.
Available in Hamburg, the ioki app allows passengers to book rides in the city at any time of the day or night. A hybrid between a bus and a ride-sharing service, there are ioki designated stops around the city and all vehicles can accommodate wheelchairs.
This is a true ride-sharing service that gets cheaper the more people that are in the vehicle. Provided by BVG (Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe) and ViaVan combined, each ride can accommodate multiple passengers, making it a cheap and eco-friendly choice. This service covers the eastern part of the S-Bahn and in Komponistenviertel, Michelangelo-Kiez and Gesundbrunnen.
MVG has introduced a public service that is on-demand, effectively a ride-sharing provision. The app searches for other passengers nearby who want to travel to the same place. This identifies the best vehicle and lets you know where you’ll need to pick it up. All vehicles are eco-friendly, making it a particularly green choice.
Have You Considered a Bike-Share?
If you like the idea of pooling resources, you might be interested in bike-sharing.
Germany is a country of bike-lovers and has an excellent infrastructure of routers and networks. Although it’s possible to pick up a bike much cheaper than a car, there’s still the problem of secure storage, especially for electric bikes.
Bike-sharing is the alternative, a way for you to cycle around Germany on a bike whenever you want to. Bike stations are dotted around the city where you can borrow a bike at any time of the day or night. You’ll need to register in advance, just like car-sharing, by providing a deposit and a means of making payment.
One of the benefits of bike-sharing is that you won’t need to return the bike to the place you picked it up from. If you only need the bike for a one-way journey, just drop it off at one of the many bike stations near your destination.
Some of the top companies offering bike-sharing services in Germany include:
The biggest bike-sharing company in Germany with a worldwide presence, Nextbike is in over 200 cities around the globe (60 within Germany). It offers a combination of station-based and “dockless” bike-sharing. The latter allows users to pay extra to be able to leave the bike anywhere, and not bring it to a station.
One of the largest bike-sharing companies in Germany, Call A Bike is available is more than 50 different cities and towns. You can cycle for free for the first 30 minutes, but you’ll need to pay a sum fee (approximately 8 cents per minute) after that.
A smaller operation present in 10 locations, Metropolradruhr provides different options for bike-sharing. You can either pay for the time you use, with day rates available for longer use, or pay much lower rates when you take out an annual subscription.
Make Sure You’re Protected
When you use a ride-sharing or car-sharing service, you won’t need to worry about taking out car insurance. This is automatically included in the cost, which is one of the benefits. If you only use a car periodically, paying to insure it every day is an unnecessary expense.
However, although you don’t need to worry about car insurance, you should still take out personal liability cover. This type of insurance protects you from any claims made against you because of any injuries or property damage you cause.
No matter how careful you are, accidents can quickly happen and a claim for compensation could leave you financially bankrupt.
The good news is that it’s easy to find personal liability cover in Germany at a very reasonable cost. For example, COYA are offering private liability insurance for just a few euro a month, 100% online.
Most Germans take out this type of insurance as it’s expected that a claim will be made if a loss occurs.
When you move to Germany, you will find that it will provide much greater peace of mind if you take out personal liability cover too.