Sustainable wheels for students

Green initiatives are being taken all around Tilburg campus. This week, Univers chats with the people behind StudentCar, a car-sharing initiative that preaches sustainability and will start at Tilburg University in November.

From the first of November, a Seat Ibiza will shine at the main entrance of Tilburg University on the Warandelaan. It will be available to anybody who owns a StudentCar card. The car-sharing company wants to provide students with an affordable and sustainable hire car. Sjoerd Geerts, contact person of the initiative, explains: “We started in Rotterdam in the beginning of 2009. Later Utrecht joined in. Now, we’re expanding to other student cities such as Wageningen, Nijmegen, Delft and Tilburg.” The concept: sign on, reserve, and use your personal card to unlock the share-car, take it with you and return it.

The main question for anybody involved in sustainability must be: Shouldn’t a student be riding a bicycle? Perhaps, but if they are going to sit in a car anyway then there are loads of reasons to take up car-sharing, according to Geurts. The reasons vary from laziness to sustainability. The latter seems somewhat opportunistic: Who pleads for sustainability and helps people get access to a vehicle? According to the spokesman these are extremely green cars: “The Ibiza does 30 kilometres to the litre. On top of that, research has shown that every shared car replaces 10 to 15 per cent of privately owned cars.”

But does the hire car replace a privately owned car in the case of students or does it replace their bicycle? “We’re not competing with public transport or the bicycle. Sometimes these aren’t able to provide the right solution. What is really required, is that students’ mindset changes; that they have positive experiences with the share-car so that later on in life they will tell their boss: Never mind a lease-car, I’d prefer public transport or a share-car subscription. Even though it may sound slightly incredible.”

Recently, Rotterdam has been given a rather unique, electrical car by the company. Will the Tilburg student be getting one as well? Geurts:” You have a charging point on the campus, so we certainly intend to take that step. Sharing cars that are electrical is a sustainable solution too. However, for the time being they are still too expensive and too unreliable to be widely deployed. We hope that will change in the next 18 months.”

It would seem as though Studentcar is trying to leave its green marks behind but what sets it aside from other green initiatives, such as Greenwheels? Geurts: “Normally speaking it’s fairly hard for youngsters to rent a car, which is logical as they are a high-risk group. With us, they can.”

Geurts assumes that students are responsible enough to be able to hire a car. “Experience has shown that it’s quite possible, nobody has written a car off yet.”

On the fourth of November the initiative will be officially launched on the campus. You can already sign up at And for those of you who are truly sustainable: the bicycle is still in the garage. [Tom van Nuenen, translation: Charles Peter]


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