Friday, February 26, 2010

A first look at carsharing in Croatia:
World Streets Annual New Mobility Country Reviews

Carsharing, a different way of owning and using a car -- wherever you find it certainly got started one day with a stray thought, a dream even, often as not in the head of one person. Someone stuck in a car or sitting in a sidewalk café, looking at the traffic and letting their mind wander, and who then starts to talk about the idea. Then all you have to do is come back a year or two later and, if we are all very lucky, you may see that this idle thought has taken a few steps toward reality. Let us have a look at how the concept is just starting to unfold in Croatia, a country under attack from rapid, aggressive and utterly unthought-out automobilization. Carsharing. . . ?

Editor's note:
In this series we are reporting on the 2010 status of carshare programs in something like twenty countries around the world where the carshare agenda is already well advanced. But you will find here as well first coverage of several examples of projects and programs that are just starting to get under way (including thus far Iceland, Greece and some Portugal). This report on Croatia is part of this "starting-up" series.

We are grateful to have this fine contribution since it is our firm view that it is extremely important for the concept of carsharing to find its rightful place in Eastern Europe, as well and quickly as possible. After the long nap of the largely "car-free" Communist era, the cities of Eastern Europe have over the last two decades come under increasing attack from virulent and largely unthinking knee-jerk automobilization. The built environment and cultural heritage of centuries is quite literally being sacked. This is putting enormous pressure on towns and cities, people administration's across the region, and unfortunately until now the dominant thrust of public policy has been in repeating the old sins of their neighbors to the west. Forecast, build, and auto-expand to the next higher around of congestion, environmental degradation, and pressure on the taxpayer.

We need more and better carsharing in Eastern Europe not only because of the real benefits it can bring to cities and people across the region, but also bearing in mind that as it takes hold and begins to be understood and appreciated, this puts pressure on all of the concerned public agencies and politicians, along with the media and the voting public themselves, to improve their understanding of what sustainable transportation is all about. Carsharing turns out to be a great way to open up the necessary public conversations about sustainable transportation. It has been called "the last nail in the coffin of old mobility", which seems like a pretty good image to us.

Now let us have a look at how this process is getting underway in Croatia in its first and still very modest steps.
Car Sharing In Croatia

- Marijan Skroza, Auto Divisio Croatia, Prvic Sepurine, Croatia

Croatia is more or less known in Europe as a beautiful country. For those who haven't discovered yet beauty of our country, let me invite you to visits www.croatia.hr

Don't you think that this beautiful country with such a splendid, privileged natural environment deserves to be ecologically clean? This is one of the reasons why we placed the head office of our company on Prvic island where we don't have any problem with finding a parking place, since there are no cars at all.

Here you see a view of Prvic island, where we have established the headquarters of Auto
Divisio Croatia. This is the way we send our message to all the cities throughout Croatia, so that they try to give the city centers back to the man himself, so that we entrepreneurs together in cooperation with urbanists, traffic experts create the city oasis, without disturbing one's mobility.

How did we come up to the idea?

Just like all the other ideas this one also comes as a result of previous work, experience and knowledge investment. Ten years ago I started noticing that Sibenik city becomes more and more taken by the vehicles. Instead of growing more green surfaces, former children's playgrounds were being turned into asphalted areas. Therefore I made a promise to my childhood friend I would solve this problem, but life drew me to the other side of the world, more exactly to Australia, where I learned that one could lead a life in harmony, regardless of nationality, since majority respects the rules. I went to some other countries and compared it, yet always returned home. I was thinking about the solution and three years ago said to my wife: I'm sick of getting up in the middle of the lunch or worse in the middle of the night to move our car! Let's share our vehicle with someone else!



Discovering the Car Sharing world

I was fully aware that I was not about to "discover hot water“ so I went online and searched for mobility and carsharing, where I found Mobility Car Sharing in Switzerland. Shorlyt after I sent them my first e-mail, and soon enough received an answer from Mr. Peter Muheim, Mobility International Ag, manager at that time of the consulting company focused on transferring their knowledge and implementing Car Sharing to all the interested persons and companies all over the world.

Searching on the internet we discovered more and more information on Car Sharing and crucial persons who work on promoting that kind of individual transport. We contacted almost all of them but the best relations remained the ones made with Mobility.

Given the examples from all over the world where Car Sharing companies are mostly set up as cooperatives or associations, and lately appeared some global players and investment funds more like join stock companies , we decided on setting up the cooperative in our first phase. The name Auto Divisio Croatia is a Latin name for Car Sharing Croatia

We were also guided by the idea of gathering all the persons who would share our point of view in sharing and who also had shown some real results on their fields. For the moment we are a team of 12 working on this project (Marijan, Marijana, Kristijan, Anita, Petar, Mirko, Anita, Dubravko, Ivica, Borivoj, Margarita i Dario) most of us with advanced university degrees.

We gave ourselves the tasks and everyone's working on his job. This volunteer approach and everyone's share in time, knowledge, things or money and with only one person employed within ADC saved us a lot of money and built us the strong base for the fast and safe company growth.

Which Car Sharing concept to choose?
Given more Car Sharing models, more or less successful, existing worldwide, we examined all the advantages and disadvantages and then decided not to copy anyone, but to build our own unique concept. Normally, due to the lack of educated personnel in providing the Car Sharing services, we will not realize immediately our concept, but take one step at the time. We could easily call it the Car Sharing third generation.

Political support
It is understood that this kind of project seeks a strong and determined political support.
As a matter of fact, we put a most of our time in lobbing and presenting carsharing service as the best form. We have a support from:
* Ministry of Economy, Labor and Entrepreneurship, Zagreb - http://www.mingorp.hr/
* Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency, Zagreb - http://www.fzoeu.hr/
Cooperation
Switzerland is the best example that if you want to have a successful Car Sharing service, you don't need just a good carsharing company but also have developed public transport system (bus, tram, train) Here in Croatia, things are not so great on that field, so we are little careful. In spite of some objective factors, we realized the following cooperation:

Parking companies
ADC is a member of Croatian Parking Association (HPU), we chose HPU as our strategic partner, given that parking place is very valuable resource, and very important link in giving carsharing service. In Croatia as in other countries there are some laws on which basis City Administration decides on how many space is possible to give on lease to individuals or to companies. Our chance is that by HPU we convince the city council to consider Car Sharing as mobile garage places.

Rent-a-car companies
There are 4000 rent-a-car vehicles in Croatia, including local agencies and almost all global franchises such as Avis, Hertz, Budget, Sixt... We already introduced ourselves to them but they are not so supportive, given their doubt in implementing Car Sharing in Croatia

Taxi
Taxi service is the most developed in the capital, Zagreb, and the total number of taxi vehicles is 2000. Unevenness in prices and services, as well as lack of management stand in the way of realization a good cooperation. Anyway they are familiar with our projects and hope we both will do in our best interest.

Public transportation
Public transportation are heading some major tasks in quality developing and better intercity relations. Boat transport company Jadrolinija and Railway transporter still belong to the state, the government often talks about reforms and privatization but still nothing happens. Private companies partially manage the city and 100 % intercity transportation,

And only several amongst them are on the level that could implement our Car Sharing service, referring to the fact that carsharing users could use both services by using only one „smart card“.

Vehicle producers and importers:
For the moment, Croatia has only one vehicle producer, company named Dok-ing who will present their first electric vehicle on the next car industry fair in Genève. We made the contacts with them given that Car Sharing also includes carsharing electric vehicles, similar to what Paris is planning for 2011. This strongly depends on somehow stronger political support and having some bigger investors.

Meanwhile we achieve in cooperation with some vehicle importers in Croatia who expressed their interest in investing vehicles in pilot project realization, and depending on the results they would continue the investments in the next commercial phase.

Realization
There is a long way from one idea until it's realization. After some time spent in researching, thinking of the concept design we came up to decide how, when and whom with realize the Car Sharing in Croatia.

Carsharing technology
There are about 10 producers of Car Sharing technology in the world. After a big study we made some contacts with Mobility, Switzerland and Eileo, France. We will wait some time to decide , since we still negotiate with both of these companies, but given the situation more likely we will start on creating our own Car Sharing technology.

Pilot project
Last year we were intending on starting our pilot project in our city Sibenik (without Car Sharing technology). We provided seven Opel vehicle , but then some political obstacles made out. Since we lost lot of time, and meanwhile more changes happened in Car Sharing world, we no longer think that pilot project is reasonable to start without the Car Sharing technology. We believe that this year we will start with our pilot project with local or imported Car Sharing technology.

Commercial phase
2011. should be the year when we would start in providing Car Sharing services in Croatia.

We will developed our brand ODDO Carsharing. We invented this name ODDO as two words OD and DO meaning in Croatian FROM – TO, which describes the best our activity FROM place TO place, FROM state TO state, ...
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About the author:

Marijan Skroza is chairman of Auto Divisio Croatia. He can be reached via uprava@carsharing.hr

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