Sustainable Design Examples

Greenwheels Carsharing

The two Greenheels Founders

Jan Borghuis, one of the two Greenwheels founders, first came across the idea of sharing a car when he and his partner read about Berlin-based StattAuto Car Sharing. They liked the concept but were convinced that it could be improved upon with the help of modern ICT applications such as on-board computers, chip cards and mobile telephony.

Realizing their ideas, they put their first three cars on the Rotterdam roads in June 1995. Undoubtedly helped by a partnership with the Dutch Railways, their success soon surpassed that of their German example. They took over StattAuto in 2004 and Shell Drive Deutschland in January 2006. One of the most important things the Greenwheels team wanted to prove is that a fully automated carsharing service is possible and even more convenient than the traditional manual service. At the start in 1995 Greenwheels was the first carsharing scheme that completely equipped their carsharing fleet with onboard computers. In a few years the automated carshare system was completed with web reservation, contact-less chip cards, GSM data communication.

"We were haunted by the idea that you could use technology to make this idea into a large scale, professional operation that would be very convenient for customers, " said Jan Borghuis, co-founder of Greenwheels - dressed in the de facto company uniform of shorts, sandals and a T-shirt, in the company's ramshackle Rotterdam office surrounded by bicycle tires rather than auto parts. "We know it would have a good effect on the environment."

In 1997 Greenwheels implemented the first 20 vehicles that were directly accessible with a contact-less chip card, without a separate key-manager system. This system lead to a new one-car-locations distribution strategy that made carsharing more accessible than ever. The one-car-location distribution is best demonstrated in the City of Amsterdam with its 450 locations most of which within easy walking distance from each other. Last year a user survey indicated a nearby-location-satisfaction of 9 on a scale of 1 - 10. A solid demonstration of putting technology to work in order to offer a convenient service 24/7.


0a) Dematerialisation
0b) Shared use of product