Over the last several years, car sharing has become a frequently used supplement to public transportation and an alternative to purchasing a personal vehicle. Car sharing not only provides expanded mobility and flexibility for its users, it also advances environment-friendly transportation options in cities where public spaces are limited and air pollution is a serious concern. In response, the German legislature[1] has recently adopted the Act on the Prioritization of Carsharing (Carsharinggesetz – CsgG) ("Car Sharing Act") to foster the use of car sharing offerings. The Car Sharing Act will enter into force on September 1, 2017.

The main objective of the Car Sharing Act is to enable the authorities to give priority to shared vehicles with regard to parking fees and parking spaces on public roads for the benefit of the end user. By definition, a car sharing vehicle is a vehicle which is available to an indefinite number of drivers, who can book and use the vehicle independently on the basis of a framework agreement[2] and a standard tariff based on time and/or kilometers, which includes all energy costs[3]. To benefit from the Act, vehicles will have to be registered and identified as car sharing vehicles with the authorities.

The Car Sharing Act also allows car sharing providers to apply for compound sites on federal town roads. Such sites can only be requested by providers offering pre-bookable vehicles at specific collection and return points[4]. The allocation of these sites will be determined by a selection procedure taking into account certain not yet definitively[5] established suitability requirements aimed to reduce motorized individual transport and air pollution due to traffic, in particular through offering electric vehicles. These requirements will be similar to the established temporary criteria within the annex of the Car Sharing Act. These include, inter alia, guidelines concerning the availability and obligatory information concerning environment-friendly driving. Detailed prioritization requirements will be determined by separate regulations. Draft regulations are expected in the near future.

Car sharing providers that intend to apply for compound sites for their car sharing fleet are advised to monitor any developments in this respect in order to be prepared for the application process. They may also need to revise their general terms and conditions and marketing materials to comply with the suitability requirements. Pursuant to the current Annex, providers have to, inter alia, inform their customers about environment-friendly driving methods[6] and about the locations and details (type and origin of the electricity supply) of the charging stations of electric vehicles.