Italy’s digital car sharing revolution

There is in Italy a new initiative to encourage people to share cars. Tom Alberto Bull wonders how long it will be before we see something along the same lines introduced in the UK?

Image: Magneti Marrelli

On a recent trip to Italy I was made aware of a mobile app taking parts of the country by storm. ‘Enjoy’ has provided a new and easy way of getting around – by introducing a fleet of branded Fiat 500 cars and Piaggio MP3 motorbikes made available for people to share.

The service is provided by the Italian oil and gas company Eni and is currently active in Milan, Turin, Rome, Florence and, most recently, Catania. It provides a welcome alternative to the stretched public transport systems and as users are charged by the minute it is also cost effective. The per-minute rate for cars is €0.25, or €50 euros for 24 hours, and slightly more for a scooter.

Once you download the app onto your smartphone, you need to fill in your details and verify your driving licence. When this has been confirmed you can simply look at the map and  see what’s available nearby, or in a particular area that interests you. Or if you happen to walk by one, just take it. You can open unlock the door or saddle using your phone and use the four digit code on the vehicle’s dashboard to begin your rental.

After you drive to your destination you leave the vehicle parked in any permitted space inside the coverage area free of charge, ready for someone else to pick up. There is also the added advantage of being able to enter certain Limited Traffic Zones (ZTL) where you would otherwise be forbidden. I got in touch with my auntie Lucia who lives in Milan and is a big fan of the app: “It’s great – if I want to visit a friend or go shopping in the centre I open the app and I never have to go far to retrieve a car.”

For security the vehicles are equipped with the latest technology. As the website states: aboard the scooters you will find a pair of front and rear cameras that record what is happening on the move. The cars come with a new data transmission device that helps to verify the proper use of the vehicle and establish liability in the event of accidents.

‘Enjoy’ provides a transport solution for both locals and tourists while also showcasing two of Italy’s most prestigious and economically important motor companies, Fiat and Piaggio.

It may not be too long before we see something similar launch in the UK and we could learn a lot from the Italian model.

Shared Mini Coopers, anyone?