Not only is buying your car expensive — owning it costs tons of cash, too. Every month, there are fuel and insurance expenses, and every few months you pay to perform important maintenance, like rotating the tires or changing the transmission fluid. The costs are even higher in cities, where you often must pay fees for parking and driving on specific roads. Meanwhile, traffic is getting worse, making driving a privately owned vehicle less efficient than waiting for public transportation in many regions.
It shouldn’t be surprising that many young people are turning away from the idea of car ownership and opting for a more flexible, more affordable solution to personal transport: car sharing. Car sharing programs have become exceedingly common in cities around the U.S., making it easier than ever to forsake traditional vehicle ownership.
Indeed, the sharing economy is growing in many sectors, and car sharing is anticipated to overtake transportation in the coming years. Here’s your guide to the emerging car sharing market and a few reasons you should consider making the switch.
Car Sharing Options
When it comes to transportation, the sharing economy has provided a number of solutions. First came ride sharing, which allows car owners to pick up fellow travelers and drive them to their destinations for a small fee. Then, car sharing developed, allowing car owners to rent out their personal vehicles for hours at a time. Now, in many cities around the world, there are professional car sharing services, in which businesses manage fleets of cars rentable by the hour.
Car sharing differs from traditional car rental in several aspects. First, car share users pay a small service fee every month, usually less than $10, to have access to the fleet. Secondly, users pay by the hour rather than by the day, and they typically aren’t responsible for costs like insurance and fuel. Finally, car sharing programs are intended for local use, meaning there are sharable vehicles located in convenient locations around cities rather than at hard-to-reach airports and train stations.
Car sharing is more advantageous than personal car ownership for a variety of reasons, many of which have already been listed: lower cost, less traffic, etc. However, perhaps the best reason drivers should transition to car sharing is the diversity of vehicles. Depending on your whim, you can rent a flashy sports car, a luxury sedan, or an economical compact for a few hours. Further, car share fleets can adopt new technologies sooner than individual owners, meaning shareable vehicles tend to be more advanced in several respects. Most importantly, you are more likely to drive the most fuel-efficient, environmentally friendly vehicleswhen you car share.
While it might seem that vehicle manufacturers stand to make less by supporting the sharing economy, in fact manufacturers nearly across the board have accepted the trend. Rather than fighting car sharing enterprises, many manufacturers have developed their own car sharing programs or allied with existing car sharing organizations. For example, BMW has both ReachNow and RideCell; Toyota has Getaround; Daimler (Mercedes-Benz) has CROOVE and Car2Go; and GM has Maven.
There is a reason that manufacturers are being so progressive when it seems counterproductive. In dozens of other industries, Silicon Valley has developed technologies that have disrupted the status quo, and the established organizations unwilling or unable to adapt disappeared in a matter of months. By cooperating with car sharing programs, manufacturers ensure their vehicles remain relevant and on the road, especially if the foretold shift away from personal ownership occurs.
Car Sharing Policy making
In the past, informal car sharing programs were so uncommon that policies unique to their practices were unnecessary. However, as the sharing economy grows, legislators are recognizing a need to address sharing programs across industries, especially in transportation where users stand to gain or lose substantially. Transportation experts believe that recent advances in vehicle tech, including electric cars, driverless cars, and car sharing, could lead to increased inequity if not properly policed.
A handful of states already have policies in place to ensure that car sharing programs properly protect users from physical and financial harm. For example, in California, car sharing programs must have comprehensive insurance policies that protect the business as well as the drivers. Undoubtedly, as car sharing programs adopt more advanced technology and gain greater participation, more states will accept car sharing as the future and enact legislation to keep the streets safe.