The history of carsharing in France: an evolution towards shared mobility

Carsharing, the key to mobility in France, has transformed the way we get around. This article traces the history of this revolution, from its humble beginnings to its current prominence in our country. Find out how carsharing has paved the way for shared mobility. Ready to embark on this historic journey? Read on to learn more.

The first steps of carsharing in France

Carsharing in France began as a daring concept in the 90s. Its genesis can be traced back to isolated and sometimes informal experiments, initiated by individuals or groups concerned about the ecological impact of the private car. They have explored alternative forms of mobility, with the aim of reducing carbon emissions and facilitating travel in urban areas.

The emergence of carsharing in France and its first experiments.

The pioneers of carsharing in France were associations, such as“Mobilib'”, launched by the France Autopartage association in 1998. These players have set the ball rolling, leading the way with bold, innovative initiatives. Despite their modest size and limited resources, they have succeeded in offering a viable alternative to the private car.

Initial challenges and obstacles

However, the early years of carsharing were fraught with difficulties. Carsharing has had to overcome a number of challenges, including a lack of public awareness and confidence in this new form of mobility. What’s more, the lack of an adequate regulatory framework has also hampered its development. Despite these obstacles, carsharing has enjoyed some promising successes, thanks to the commitment of pioneers and changing attitudes. The support of local authorities and the development of digital technologies have also played a key role in these early successes.

So the story of carsharing in France is one of perseverance and innovation, illustrating a major transition towards more shared, sustainable mobility.

Car-sharing on the rise

Over the past decade, carsharing in France has grown rapidly, from a marginal phenomenon to a credible alternative to the private car.

The driving forces behind the expansion of this practice

Several factors have contributed to this rise. Environmental awareness has played a crucial role, as more and more people seek to reduce their carbon footprint. However, digital transformation has facilitated access to these services: mobile applications have made car-sharing more practical, democratizing its use.

The main carsharing players

Numerous companies and start-ups have played an active role in this expansion. Companies like Autolib, with its self-service car-sharing service, have revolutionized the mobility landscape. Their innovative initiatives and skilful use of digital technologies have enabled them to expand their car-sharing offer, responding to growing demand.

For example, Koolicar, a pioneering player in the French car-sharing sector, has succeeded in transforming the way French people get around on a daily basis. Founded in 2010, this visionary company’s innovative approach has enabled it to make a name for itself in the shared mobility market. By allowing owners to rent their cars to other users without even having to exchange keys, this company makes the rental process much easier. Thanks to an ingenious electronic box, renters can access the vehicle with ease.

The recent history of carsharing in France bears witness to a veritable metamorphosis. From a niche phenomenon, carsharing has become a major mobility solution, marking an important step in the move towards more shared mobility in France.

The environmental impact of carsharing

According to the national Autopartage 2022 survey published by ADEM, subscribing to a carsharing service reduces car ownership and use: 1 car in a carsharing scheme replaces 5 to 8 private cars, eliminates between 10,000 and 19,000 km of private cars per year, and frees up 0.9 to 3 on-street parking spaces. The environmental impact is therefore significant.

These key figures testify to the growing importance of carsharing in the French mobility landscape. They underline not only the public’s enthusiasm for this form of shared mobility, but also its considerable positive impact on the environment and quality of life in our cities.

Public and private initiatives

Public support for car-sharing

The development of carsharing in France has been supported by significant public initiatives. Government and local authorities have introduced favorable regulations, such as tax incentives and subsidies, to encourage the adoption of carsharing. In addition, specific parking spaces have been dedicated to car-sharing vehicles, facilitating their accessibility and visibility.

Public-private partnerships

Successful partnerships between public bodies and private companies have also played a crucial role. For example, the collaboration between the City of Paris and Autolib’, an electric car-sharing service, was a pioneering initiative, setting a precedent for other cities.

Examples of successful projects

These joint efforts have resulted in successful projects that have brought economic and environmental benefits to communities. A notable example is the “Métropole Rouen Normandie” project, which has set up a fleet of car-sharing vehicles, generating considerable savings and helping to reduce CO2 emissions.

These public and private initiatives testify to the strong commitment to carsharing in France, and its key role in the move towards shared mobility.


Carsharing in France has made remarkable progress, from modest local initiatives to a major shared mobility solution. Its benefits, from reducing CO2 emissions to easing traffic congestion, are undeniable. The Carsharing 2023 Barometer offers a more detailed insight into this exciting development and its implications. We invite you to consult it on the Association des Acteurs de l’Autopartage website to learn more about this transformative movement in France’s mobility landscape.