The Wall St Journal had an article last week on the emerging car sharing industry in the US.
Car sharing is designed for people who want access to a car for short trips occasionally without the expense of owning a car. You pay a membership fee and then hourly or daily usage rates that include petrol, insurance, etc. Its target market is urban dwellers who take public transport to work and need a car only occasionally to go shopping or visit friends. They tend to be in densely populated areas where levels of car ownership are lower and so you don’t have to walk far to get a car. Apparently companies are also targeting universities and small to medium businesses where employees need vehicles for meetings or site visits but the company doesn’t have its own fleet.
There are a number of car sharing companies in Australia. I’ve noticed quite a few setting up in my neighbourhood recently.
The personal advantages:
- Much cheaper than owning a car if you only need a car now and then.
- You don’t have to worry about parking, insurance, cleaning.
- Convenient (compared to renting a car) – you book online, and swipe a membership card to unlock the car and drive away. The idea is that there would be a car within a few blocks of where you live.
The environmental advantages:
- fewer cars, since this allows some people to avoid buying a car;
- the cars tend to be the most efficient on the market;
There’s also a benefit in densely populated areas that there’s a single car being used by 15 - 20 people in a week and occupying one parking spot, rather than 15 cars occupying 15 spots.
Essentially the savings and efficiency come from the fact that share cars, unlike most others, are not simply sitting idle for 90% plus of the time.
What do you think of the idea? Would you use it? Do you think it will take off?