Sophie: Thanks for coming in today to chat guys. So my first question is, could you describe P2P carsharing?
Aaron: P2P carsharing is a service through which a person can either rent a car from someone else, or rent their own car to someone else, usually for a few hours for around 70 swedish crowns per hour. There are significant financial benefits for both sides and the environmental benefits are even bigger. The average user reduces their yearly kilometers travelled by 43%. On top of the correlating reduction in CO2 emissions, there are less cars being manufactured. The estimate is that for each car shared, ten less cars will be manufactured.
Mark: To give you some context, there is one company doing this here in Sweden: Flexidrive. The biggest companies are based out of France, Germany and California. All these companies just started in the last couple years so this is all super new stuff.
Sophie: Ok, so if I understand this correctly Sunfleet is not a P2P carsharing?
Aaron: Correct. Sunfleet is what we would call traditional carsharing or business-to-consumer carsharing because the cars are all owned by the company; whereas in P2P carsharing, the cars are owned by users. In P2P carsharing there’s two types of users, borrowers and owners. This is all part of a wider trend known as the “sharing economy” or “collaborative consumption”. This includes any business that is allowing users to “share” goods, such as cars, rooms, lawn-mowers, you name it. They change, or at least they challenge, ownership business models with new models based on access to the goods or service desired.
Mark: From a service design perspective, what I find interesting is that the P2P platform does not have full control over the user experience. In addition to the company-user interactions, there is now a whole other layer of user-user relations that have to be considered and designed for, which certainly makes things more complicated but also more interesting. Essentially one of the user groups, the owners, can be considered as suppliers or even as service providers. In this type of peer-to-peer marketplace the platforms provide the infrastructure and tools, but, depending on the platform, much of the experience comes down to the individual users.
Sophie: Tell me more about the visuals you produced during the projects.
Mark: I’m a very visual person. To me images and objects make a lot more sense and can have a higher density of information than text. For this reason, over the course of our thesis, I always tried to visualize our work. Not only to help clarify our own thoughts, but also to make our research more digestible and ‘shareable’, so we could gain the attention of P2P carsharing platforms. Getting support from the platforms was important as our research methods relied heavily on user input. In the end we made several infographics; one that charted and categorized the different P2P platforms around the world, another one that mapped the customer journey, and lastly a series of visuals that summarized some of our survey results.
Sophie: Could you tell me about your mobile design ethnography work?
Mark: We set out to get users to self-document their service experience using a smartphone app called MyServiceFellow. Unfortunately it proved exceedingly difficult to get people to do it. We even had trouble getting platform employees to do it. It made me realize that you really need to provide people with the right motivation to participate in this type of research.
Sophie: I find it interesting that you are studying Sustainable Product-Service Systems Innovation and have chosen to use Service Design as a method for your master thesis. How come?
Mark: We feel you need to make the experience better than the alternative, especially if it’s deeply rooted as owning a car. Sure, you’ll get some people to make the switch based on ideals, like sustainability or reduced environmental impact, but appeal to the masses, the service offering has to be an improvement compared to their current situation. This is why we choose a user centered approach and have employed Service Design research methods to get the job done.
Aaron has a BSc. in Computer Science and a Diploma in Environmental Sciences. He is currently working on setting up a ridesharing service in Canada. A service which he hopes to bring to Sweden within the next year.
Mark is currently working as a freelance designer in Berlin on variety of projects ranging from next generation communications devices to an online platform to facilitate volunteering and community building.