M Blog

Launching a smarter way to access cars in cities

Sometimes things around us are obvious. Obvious that a change is needed and yet, we struggle to make that change happen.

September 24, 2019

When we started to develop M 18 months ago, we leaned into two well known facts: 1) more and more people around the world choose to live in cities, where there are too many cars in the same place at the same time and 2) consumer’s relationship to ownership is changing. Consumers increasingly prefer the ease and convenience of access, rather than ownership.

Most of the cars in cities are private cars or fleets owned by companies. According to research by recognized scholars, private cars stand idle around 95% of the time. Why? Because for more than 100 years, cars have given us freedom: to go places, to do stuff. So, until there is an alternative that offers the same, that you can trust, you simply keep your car. Even if you only use it for the occasional 3-4 trips per month.

Recent studies from Fehr & Peers, shows that alternatives aiming to solve for the intra-city trips from A to B do not decrease the number of cars in cities. Micro mobility options like bikes and e-scooters have the potential to reduce consumers use of free-floating cars and taxis. We like the idea of being part of consumer driven ecosystems where the right transportation mode is available for the right use case.

Solutions that mimic the way we use our private cars, however, do actually reduce the number of privately owned cars in our cities.

With 20 years experience in traditional car sharing in Sweden, we have third party analysis to prove this impact, and there are similar reports in European and US markets showing station based concepts taking out between 5-13 cars per shared vehicle.

The traditional notion of car sharing is no longer new; yet, the solutions available struggle to meet consumer expectations at scale. In a recent ING international consumer survey, 45% of respondents selected “user experience” as the primary barrier to using car sharing. Within this category, they highlighted reliability, ease of use, and convenience as most important. 

M is designed with this audience in mind. Those who understand the positive impact car sharing can have—perhaps they’ve tried it before or are eager to give up their own car—but expect more from a 21st century service. We aim to be the service you expect: dependable, flexible, and seamless. Because the more people we can convince, the faster we can make the shift to a more sustainable solution and ultimately enable for cities and developers to reclaim space in our streetscape. 

What would a city look like with less cars on the streets? How might we move, work, and live differently if our cities centered around people, rather than optimizing streets for cars?

There are countless reasons for us to make a change in pursuit of bringing real alternatives to private car ownership in major cities around the world. And in doing so, we need to reach as many people as possible. Because every step forward is a move in the right direction. 

Our efforts and aspirations in developing a service that is dependable, that you can trust, starts this week, as we launch the smart car sharing service, M, in Stockholm and Uppsala. It happens to come on the tails of European Mobility Week and the World Car-Free day which we see only fit as grassroots efforts encouraging urban residents to envision a future with fewer cars.

After all, real consumer power has always been the most powerful change driver in society.

Join the movement. Join us at M.

- Bodil Eriksson, M CEO

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