Mobility transition or just another business? Temporal and spatial analysis of the diffusion of station-based carsharing services in five German municipalities


  • Martin Ritter Institute of Environmental Social Sciences and Geography, University of Freiburg, 79106 Freiburg, Germany
  • Verena Volkmer Institute of Environmental Social Sciences and Geography, University of Freiburg, 79106 Freiburg, Germany
  • Heiner Schanz Institute of Environmental Social Sciences and Geography, University of Freiburg, 79106 Freiburg, Germany



Carsharing, mobility systems, mobility transition, causal pathways


Station-based carsharing systems are regularly seen as key building blocks for a successful sustainability transition of municipal mobility systems. While numerous studies deal with the optimal distribution of carsharing stations from a business perspective, none explores which spatial and temporal patterns shape the development of carsharing station networks, even though sustainability transitions and their patterns are perceived as strictly place-specific. This study uses a comparative cross-case analysis of five southwest German cities to reveal similarities in spatial and temporal patterns. The analysis differentiates between ‘efficient causes’, described by structural and social demographic characteristics of cities, and ‘final causes’, described by the causal pathway development of municipal carsharing policy. Results reveal that despite the different city characteristics and causal pathways, the spatial evolution of station-based carsharing systems follow similar growth paths, tending towards consolidation of carsharing patterns regardless of municipal support. The study adds to our understanding of mobility transitions and casts doubt on the ability of current station-based carsharing systems to shift municipal mobility systems towards ecological sustainability.


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Issue publication date 2023-08-31 (version 2)
Published online first 2023-07-07 (version 1)




Research Article

How to Cite

Ritter M, Volkmer V, Schanz H. Mobility transition or just another business? Temporal and spatial analysis of the diffusion of station-based carsharing services in five German municipalities. RuR [Internet]. 2023 Aug. 31 [cited 2024 Jun. 22];81(4):355-72. Available from: