My Car Club – a great example of a product-service system
I mentioned a few weeks ago that I’d taken the (supposedly impossible) step of going car-free. Well, not entirely car free, as I’ve joined a car club to cover the few times a month I really want/need a car. I put together this short video to explain the five benefits of a car club over car ownership if you don’t use a car very often.
As I mention in the video, a car club is a great example of a product-service system (PSS) – where you buy the service you need (transport on demand in this case) rather than the product (a car). As the average car does nothing for 96% of the time, this is a much more efficient use of resources than car ownership.
The PSS concept has a long history, but a glacially slow uptake. Xerox pioneered the ‘copying service’ over photocopier sales model successfully and chemical management services also thrive, but their true potential has never been fulfilled.
The main obstacle is culture – we like to own stuff even if it makes no logical sense. I sometimes still find references to Interface’s Evergreen carpet service as a case study, but Interface had to abandon that business model as the market couldn’t get its head around flooring being a revenue item rather than a capital item. Likewise attempts to import the compressed air service to the UK floundered because companies wanted to own the compressor, despite the fact that incorrect set ups are both common and extremely wasteful, both financially and environmentally.
Like me with my car club, using a PSS sends a message to the market and peers that a different way is possible. As the saying goes: be the change you want to see.