Excerpted from Philip Oltermann:
“The notion of the “share economy” may have been coined as long ago as 1984, by Harvard economist Martin Weitzman. But there is a sense that the shift away from ownership towards functionality is nowhere as tangible in Europe as in Berlin.
If Berlin is establishing itself as the sharing capital of Europe, said futurologist Peter Wippermann, it is above all because of the unique intersection between the alternative green movement and old industry.
Elsewhere on the continent, the share economy may be defined by start-ups such as Airbnb, which matches travellers to people with rooms to rent, he argued, “but in Germany it’s driven by grassroots projects like Leila on the one hand and big companies like BMW and Daimler on the other, who were quick to latch on to the car-sharing idea”.
With 760,000 registered users, Germany is pioneering car-sharing in Europe – not least, experts say, because initiatives such as Car2Go, DriveNow or Tamyca tie in with more old-fashioned “hitch-a-ride” schemes that used to be popular with students and hitchhikers.
So far, most of these developments have taken place without the support of the city itself, said Dorothee Landgrebe, of the Heinrich Böll Foundation. “The state could do a lot more to support genuinely ecological projects such as borrowing shops and help identify those who exploit sharing schemes for their own profit.”