1. Abstract

 

            Globalization has
impacted nearly every aspect of life today. Supporting individual economies
around the world, it has contributed to more efficient markets, increased
competition, and spread wealth more equally. Globalization has created new
technological innovations such as digital platforms, which have been
contributing to the sharing economy,
a market model, where items are shared by individuals who do not make full use
of them (Horton & Zeckhauser, 2016). Globalization, nevertheless, has also
created some areas of concern, namely its impact towards the environment, in
terms of emissions emitted by vehicles, such as cars every year.

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            GetAround, the US leading P2P
car-sharing platform, has both positively and negatively, contributed to a
positive impact in the US environment, which through the use of literature
reviews, analyzed and explored: To
what extent does the car-sharing platform GetAround, impact the United State’s
environment?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Introduction                                                          

 

            Globalization has
impacted nearly every aspect of today’s life. Providing the support to
individual economies around the world, globalization makes markets more
efficient, increases competition, and spreads wealth more equally around the
world. Globalization has been creating new technological innovations such as
platform and has improved communication. Unlike dedicated web shops, platforms
do not sell products or services themselves. They instead create value by
giving access to software, a digital system of reputation and trust between supply
and demand (Van Alstyne, Parker, & Choudary, 2016). Digital platforms do
not only sell the access to software, they also give a rise to the so-called sharing economy, a market model, where
items that are expensive to buy are shared by individuals who own them and do
not make full use of it (Horton & Zeckhauser, 2016). While a few years
back, sharing vehicles, such as cars, through platforms was not very common, as
the idea of “owning properties” was more accepted, sharing is gaining much
popularity and wide spreading now (Cohen & Kietzmann, 2014).

 

            Nevertheless, on top of
the positive impacts, globalization has created some areas of concern, namely its
impact on the environment. Globalization has increased product demand, which
has led to increases in product production and has put much stress on the
environment.  Globalization has opened
international trade, which on one hand has created many opportunities, but on
the other hand; this has also increased pollution as trading products involve
transportation. The amount of fuel needed for transportation is a major
contributor to the increase in the pollution levels and the non-renewable
sources of energy, petroleum, have caused severe problems to the greenhouse
effect. Withal, there are ways in which individuals can positively contribute
to decreasing this problem in their everyday lives (Environment.co.za, 2013).
Namely by reducing the number of vehicle consumption, and instead, use the
currently available vehicles more. North America launched its first car-sharing
service in 1998, and not long after, this notion was followed by more
businesses throughout the USA (Greenblatt & Shaheen, 2015). One of the many
interesting car-sharing platforms is GetAround, which has shown positive
contributions towards both the society and the environment.

 

            GetAround is a privately
owned company, consisting of a peer-to-peer (P2P) car-sharing platform found by
Sam Zaid, Jessica Scorpio and, Elliot Kroo in September 2009, and launched to the
public in May 2011 at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference. GetAround was created
to operate as a solution based on the notion of car-overpopulation, as there
are more than 1 billion cars in the world and the majority sits idle for
averagely 22 hours a day (Getaround, 2011).

            GetAround
works as an application in which renters can search for cars nearby using the GetAround
App on either Android, Apple, or on the GetAround website. It is a free
application and for $5 an hour, members can conveniently access and save money
on car payments, insurance, and maintenance (Getaround, 2011).

            Not long ago, just back
in 2015, 27% of the USA Greenhouse gas emissions were caused by transportation,
making this the second largest pollution contributor after electricity, which
was only 3% higher (Pruitt, 2017). Research on GetAround has proven that
one-shared car, takes up to 30 cars of the road. Due to its technology,
GetAround has grown more than 200,000 members across the US, showing that it
has and may continue to have a huge potential impact on the environment
(Getaround, 2011).

 

            Throughout its entry, GetAround
has shown notable environmental changes in the market, while expanding to
different states making the impact even larger. Therefore this academic research
paper will investigate: To what extent does the
car-sharing platform GetAround, impact the United State’s environment?

 

            This research paper consists
of a deep research through the use of academic articles and literature reviews,
based on the car-sharing economy, where the GetAround platform is introduced
and elaborated, as well as the impact car-sharing has on the USA environment, since
GetAround is currently based in the USA only. This paper is structured in three
clear parts. The first section consists of the introduction; the section after,
the general background is introduced followed by a discussion on GetAround’s
impact with the authors personal opinion. Finalized by the third section, where
the limitations of the GetAround service and the answer to the central question
will be discussed.

 

 

3. Theoretical framework of GetAround

3.1
General background

            Technology has advanced
significantly fast over the past years and contributed to easier and faster
access to information. GetAround is all about the P2P car-sharing idea and has made
use of the Google Application Engine to build its innovative marketplace where it
links individuals who want to rent a car, to individuals who are willing to lend
their car to offset ownership costs. All cars, joining GetAround, get an
installed device called the GetAround connectTM. This device lets
the owners receive a notification every time a customer is interested in
renting their car. The only job the owner has is to manage the car its
availability through the App, notifying when the car is and is not available
for sharing. The interested individuals can directly book any available cars
without personally contacting the owner and can immediately unlock the car due
to the GetAround connectTM. Next, to this, car insurance is also
offered, allowing the drivers to have a continuous and fun sharing experience. GetAround
has served in the urban areas of San Francisco, Bay area, San Diego, Austin,
Portland and Chicago, and is continuously working on expanding to new areas,
currently to New Jersey.

 

            GetAround being a digital
firm depends on a lot of its applications and has, therefore, a huge impact on
today’s societies. As an individual, the present author believes that the
car-sharing platform GetAround has a huge impact on the environment because
GetAround can become the new “trend” of transportation and have more business
platforms create similar or identical ideas. This does not only contribute to
the sharing economy, benefiting both sides of the demand and supply, but this
also impacts the environment as it reduces CO2 pollutants. From the literature
and data analyzed, GetAround shows to have a strong position for further growth
and expansion while sharing its mission and incentivizing the simple use.

 

            As explained by Thomas
Puschmann and Rainer Alt, in the Sharing
Economy, article, the sharing economy has been defined as a market model
built on by the use of shared private products and services among individuals (Puschmann
& Alt, 2016). The activities in the sharing economy have been said to fall
into four categories: the recirculation of goods, the increased utilization of
durable assets, the exchange of services and the sharing of productive assets
(Schor, 2014). P2P economic activities are becoming very powerful tools for
cooperation in the production and consumption of goods and services. The common
idea of the sharing economy is the interest among participants, creating a more
sustainable and fairer society (Schor, 2014).

 

            The sharing economy is
more than just sharing goods and services; it has provided new innovations
consisting of lower cost access to goods and services. In GetAround, car owners
have the opportunity to make money, reducing their ownership costs  (The Economist, 2013). GetAround incentivizes
individuals to share their cars by the hour and day since the owners, the
renters and the environment all benefit from this concept. On the demand side, individuals
get access to cars in a more efficient way, allowing them to only pay for
borrowing the vehicle instead of ownership costs. The suppliers benefit, as
they are able to legally and ethically make a profit from joining the service. Just
like GetAround, all businesses have an objective, but how can this be
evaluated? According to Rachel Botsman, there is a five-point criterion, which
concludes whether a business contributes to the sharing economy. According to
these criteria, GetAround makes a strong case that it contributes to the
Sharing economy, because it is all about the idea of unlocking the value of
unused or rarely used assets, whether it is for monetary or non-monetary
benefits. GetAround’s mission is to reduce car-overpopulation and give humanity
a more “own-less, use-more” vision (Botsman, 2015).

 

            In order to join the
GetAround platform and make use of its service, GetAround’s website provides all
the important regulation details, both the car owner and the renter need to
take into consideration. GetAround’s main regulations are divided into three
sections, the basic eligibility (age and past violations), the USA driver
license, and the international license. These are the main rules for an
individual to get access to GetAround. Nevertheless, there are many more detailed
regulations according to taxation, insurance, fees and commissions schedule,
privacy policy and the general information on the website (GetAround, 2011).

 

            Following the clear
regulations on the GetAround website, the positive responses about the platform
and its contribution to the environment on academic newspapers allows being
believed that GetAround is a reliable platform and is following the USA
car-sharing regulations as it has very detailed and very specific regulations
itself. GetAround offers information as well as reviews on their blog, found on
their website, where clients can be helped.

3.2
Discussion

            For many decades,
transportation has been one of the largest contributors to environmental pollution
in the USA. Car pollutants cause immediate and long-term effects on the
environment as harmful gasses and solid matter is emitted, which cause global
warming and acid rain both, harming the environment and the human health. This,
however, can be reduced and is also GetAround’s mission, as the platform was
created by three entrepreneurial individuals who, when, in university were
challenged to positively impact one billion people in the next ten years.
Looking to the future of transportation, they realized that the current the transportation
model is not stable, and so they created GetAround to serve the world as a
solution to the problem of car-overpopulation. With more than 1 billion
vehicles in the world, which spend around 90% of its time idle. As a
car-sharing platform, GetAround has a huge potential environmental impact (GetAround,
2011). GetAround’s intersection of the use of sharing and technology has
contributed to the idea and mindset of “own-less use-more”, reducing the number
of cars are bought, and instead increasing the use of already existing cars.

 

            Studies have shown that
each shared car can have a significant impact on the environment leading to a massive
decrease in congestion improving air quality. When GetAround was first
introduced in San Francisco, over 100,000 cars were eliminated from the
environment and was shared that the car-sharing service in San Francisco is as
much a transportation solution as an environmental solution (Powell, 2014).

 

3.3
Limitations of the GetAround service

            From the research done
about GetAround, GetAround has shown to incentivize individuals about the idea
of buying less and sharing more. As sharing increases, theoretically, this
results in a reduction in emissions. Nonetheless, when analyzing the price and
income effects, perspectives change. As ownership costs are reduced because renting
is cheaper than buying a car, this might result in more driving because it is cheaper
and easier to get access to a borrowed car, causing emissions to increase
(Shaheen, Mallery & Kingsley, 2012). However, taking into consideration
that more cars are being rented out, this results in not everyone being able to
drive at the same time.  The opposite
case, where everyone owns a car and can use it when they want, this would cause
more cars on the road and more cars standing idle, increasing wasteful
resources. Therefore the author of this paper is in believing that the use of
car-sharing services such as GetAround, positively or maybe negatively
contributes to a positive impact in the US environment. 

 

            Next, to this, Ph.D.
Shaheen from the Transportation Sustainability Research Center has shown in her
academic research, Carsharing trends and research
highlights that the number of vehicles in the USA, have been decreasing
since 2015/2016 by which in 2017, there were almost 2,500 fewer cars compared
to 2016 (Shaheen, 2017). In The Economist similar data was shared where a clear
diagram shows that the number of shared cars has dramatically increased
compared to the number of vehicle production (Stanley, 2016). Greenhouse gasses
decreased from an average of 58%-84% to 34%-41%, showing a significant
difference, and if GetAround becomes more attractive, there will be more users,
and so the reduction in emissions can become even larger. On top of this,
GetAround has all the possibilities to grow even wider, since more
attractiveness, leads to more users contributing to this change. Also due to
the shared information on articles and reviews about GetAround’s service,
individuals may feel safer and know what to expect when using the service (The
Economist 2, 2013).

 

            In addition to the
concern that car-sharing may contribute to a negative impact towards the
environment, another concern facing the sharing economy is that sharing cars is
taking away car making jobs, as a decrease in car demand starts developing
(Magne Skjelvik, Maren Erlandsen & Haavardsholm, 2017). Many carmakers have
begun to manufacture smaller cars in the hope of selling faster because they
are cheaper and easier to maintain. This shows that the sharing economy has
advantages and limitations, which need to be taken into account before creating
a problem from fixing another (The Economist 3, 2016).  

 

 

4. Conclusion

            To
conclude, Globalization has led to many new opportunities; nevertheless, often
the impact it has on the environment is overlooked. Due to globalization, product
demand has increased, leading to the increase in product production while putting
much stress on the environment. Technology, international trade, and
innovations must take into account its impact on the environment as well.  As massive amounts of emissions are emitted
into the environment every year due to these activities, in order to confront
this problem, changes must take place. One-way society can support, is through car
sharing.  

            As
the idea of the sharing economy has been growing, the importance of a use-more,
own-less mentality has been introduced, resulting in fewer wasteful resources and
a significant reduction in emissions, especially through the car-sharing
services (Shaheen, 2017). Continuing to drive growth in the existing markets, while
expanding to more communities across the US, GetAround has given itself the
opportunity to be significant and be known by individuals. Individuals do not
only get reduced car ownership costs, lend safely, rent cars when and almost at
any location they want but most importantly, GetAround also allows for the
creation of a more environmentally friendly environment, with less pollution
and a reduction in wasteful resources which can be used for other purposes.

            This idea, nevertheless,
has been debated because when seen from different perspectives, the idea of it
negatively impacting the environment is raised. This was shown by Shaheen,
Mallery & Kingsley as its believed that the reduction in renting vehicles,
can become an incentive to drive more often because of cheap and easy access (Shaheen,
Mallery & Kingsley, 2012). From analyzing academic research data, however, the
data which has been collected by researchers, clearly shows that one-shared car
takes a fair number of cars of the road, which evidently shows that car-sharing
can definitely make a difference to the problem of car-overpopulation which after
electricity, is the second highest polluter in the USA.

 

            Car sharing has contributed
to many opportunities. Yet, a possible future limitation, is that this concept,
is cheaper and easier than owning a car, which may cause in job reductions, as vehicle
demand will decrease. However as technology is improving, and more
environmental cars are introduced, this may increase demand again. Future
possibilities would be to have most cars be substituted by environmental
friendly cars, and this would then have an even more positive impact on the
environment.

 

            Going back to the
research question, analyzing both the advantages and limitations of GetAround and
its impact towards the USA environment, GetAround has shown growth as it began
as a small idea just back in 2009 and after having the possibilities to be
shared in 2011, GetAround has since then been growing as a business positively
impacting society and the environment. Knowing that sharing one car may take up
to 30 cars off the road, is very powerful when the USA environment concerns are
increasing due to the massive numbers of vehicles currently present. To go
further into this research, it would be essential if GetAround shared more data
on how the single platform has been contributing to the USA environment, as at
this point, the conclusion that GetAround has created the environmental
improvements only cannot be concluded. After all, GetAround is the current
leading car-sharing platform and has the possibilities to become even larger and
share its idea for more businesses to impact the environment positively.