The S-Curve Indicator: Week of April 8, 2013

This week’s indicator is 100, which is the number of Tesla Model S vehicles purchased by the Las Vegas-based initiative Project 100. The initiative, which aims to “bring together the ultimate in collaborative consumption,” aspires to completely eliminate the need for vehicle ownership in Las Vegas by combining bike sharing, car sharing, taxis, and shuttle buses, into a single membership. This differentiates it from services like ZipCar or Getaround, which address only one corner of the market. The rise of platforms like Project 100 underscores the need for businesses to incorporate collaborative consumption into their products and services.

A fair amount of ink has already been devoted to exploring whether we’ve passed “peak driving” in the developed world, a trend that is especially striking for the Millennial generation. While it may be too soon to declare the death of car ownership, the consumer appeal of collaborative consumption models is too great for businesses to ignore. So far, large corporates have been fairly flat-footed (in the auto industry and elsewhere) in adapting to this trend, while startups like Airbnb and Yerdle are gaining accolades and market traction. However, there are signs that big corporates are starting to clue in to what is going on around them. Avis’ acquisition of ZipCar earlier this year was heralded as “the end of the beginning for car sharing.” BMW recently launched DriveNow, a premium car sharing program. Still, none of these offerings is as comprehensive as the vision laid out by Project 100, suggesting that market players should be thinking even bigger. And while automobiles were one the first industries to be disrupted, we also expect collaborative consumption to significantly influence sectors from equipment to clothing to technology.

This is an entry in our series, The S-Curve Indicator, where we highlight a number that’s impacting the world of sustainability.