EU consumer law: The brake pedal in the transition to sustainable mobility usership?

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentationAcademic


In the last decades, attitudes towards mobility consumption have shifted, which brought increasing concern for ecological, societal, and developmental impact. Where the consumption of vehicles used to be the central focus, for example the purchase of a car in ownership, there is a transition underway to the use of vehicles. The latter is, for example, the lease car or shared scooter or bicycle. The (sustainable) idea behind these use-based mobility models is that the provider of mobility usership remains the owner of the vehicle for the entire lifecycle of the vehicle. In this way, the provider gets the incentive to produce and maintain the vehicle to make the product lifecycle as long as possible and reduce waste. MU may also contribute to sustainable mobility by facilitating the more efficient use of vehicles. This sustainable motive refers – more specifically - to shared vehicles that can be shared among consumers, such as Greenwheels, Felyx and Lime. With this form of mobility use, it is possible that a consumer travels from A to B, after which another consumer travels with the same vehicle from B to C within one hour.

The necessity for a transition to mobility usership is broadly acknowledged and strategies to support the transition to such a sustainable business model is encouraged. However, the private mobility usership business model needs to be constructed in a way that safeguards the consumer’s rights. Evidence in current literature has resulted in ample information regarding different sustainable business models, but questions related to the impact, if any, on the consumers’ rights and obligations resulting from the implication of circular economy models, have not yet been addressed. As an owner of a product, the consumer has certain rights and obligations, but these rights and obligations might change with a transition to use instead of ownership. A solid private law framework can be a catalyst for sustainable mobility models, while the absence of this can have the opposite effect. Consumer rights protect consumers from threats and serious risks that they are unable to tackle as individuals, which allows consumers to make decisions based on correct and reliable information and improve their welfare and economic interests.

This presentation addresses the impact on the consumers’ rights and obligations in mobility usership business models by a comparison to traditional (sales-based) business models. The inequivalence in consumer protection between the private lease consumer and the traditional sales-based consumer is illustrated by a comparison of their level of protection under the EU Consumer Credit Directive. In this context, the paper shows that there are sustainable mobility sectors where the level of consumer protection is raised by the sector itself without being legally obliged to do so and whether this would become a - so-called- race to the bottom or race to the top.
Period27 Oct 202228 Oct 2022
Held atAmsterdam Centre for European Studies (ACES), Netherlands