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Carshare Industry on Upward Trend

Car sharing, once thought to be a niche market, has been on the upward trend over the last five years.  Since 2011, the car-sharing industry has seen an annual growth rate of 25.9% with revenues reaching $1B in December 2016.  We expect the industry will continue to see rapid growth as more strategic players continue to enter the market place, coinciding with the rise of internet-connected mobile devices.  Over the next five years, the car-share industry is forecasted to grow at an annualized 9.2% with revenues reaching $1.6B.  A major factor for industry operators has been the strong support they have from federal, state and local governments over the past five years.  As of 2015, the government has awarded several major vendors contracts to provide industry services.  Additionally, they have commenced pilot car sharing options in large metropolitan cities including Washington D.C., New York, Boston and Chicago.  These programs allow industry operators to subsidize their research and development and mitigate operating losses.

 

The car-sharing industry is still in a quality growth life cycle due to three primary market trends.  The price of crude oil has dropped over the last two years, but we are expecting a spike over the next few years.  In densely populated areas, where travel tends to be more limited and less necessary given alternative travel options, the threat of rising oil prices will significantly increase demand for car-sharing services.  Another key trend for industry operators is the growth in demand for environmentally friendly practices.  On average, car share users travel shorter distances in a shared car than their car-owner equivalent, which reduces overall emission of CO2 and general pollution.  With this trend on the forefront, many state and local governments have turned to car-sharing programs as a way of increasing the efficacy of reducing CO2 emissions, but also as a way of reducing traffic congestion and freeing up parking spaces.  Lastly, the increased utilization of mobile technologies has propelled industry operators into the spotlight as they readily employ these new developments in their operations.  Over the last five years to 2016, the number of mobile internet connections in the United States has grown at an annualized rate of 14.6%, a key indicator that has not been taken lightly by industry operators. The self-service nature of industry services has thrived on the development and growth of mobile phone applications, which allows customers to take advantage of GPS functions on their phones to locate and reserve the closest vehicle to their location.

 

We are seeing uptick in M&A activity within car sharing and more will be expected as the growth cycle shifts to a mature industry over the next five years. Three key trends are developing in this space; consolidation/tuck-in acquisitions by strategic acquirers, multi-national corporations investing into their own car sharing programs and mergers between two relatively equal sized companies.  For a strategic acquirer, growing organically may take a number of years but through M&A, they can achieve quicker success and be able to minimize expenses through realized synergies.  Large automotive groups such as Audi and BWM are heavily investing into creating their own car sharing programs.  They are seeing macroeconomic shifts in the industry and a growing need of consumers who want car sharing programs; car sharing also provides these automotive groups revenue diversification as it allows them to enter a market segment they were previously not involved in.

 

As the car share industry expands over the next five years so will its reliance on mobile vendors to service their fleets. One of the main services that car sharing relies on is car washing. We expect that by 2021 the industry will spend upwards of $80M on fleet cleaning solutions.  As the demand for the mobile car wash enterprise rises so will the need for a technology platform that will provide logistical solutions for the car share market.