The desire to get behind the wheel starts long before the first driving lesson for many, and as the allure of freedom, coolness and being in control of the radio calls to you, you wonder why you’d ever want to get out of the car. The reason quickly dawns on you as you begin to be the one solely responsible for the running and maintenance costs of the car. The dream is in danger of being shattered as your car transforms from a symbol of freedom, to a shackle of financial responsibility.
As a result, there are numerous solutions to the costs of owning and running a car – public transport, bike riding, car pooling, walking, electronic cars and more. One solution which is growing in popularity is car sharing, but is this really a viable option, and one which can help you reduce the costs of driving?
The reason behind car sharing is not just to save you money, but also to help us do our bit to save the planet by reducing the number of cars on the road. For example, most car sharing services have between six and 20 cars available. This means that between nine and 13 vehicles are taken off the road for every vehicle in a car sharing fleet. Of those vehicles taken off the road, four to six of them were eliminated as a direct result of car sharing and the rest were not purchased to begin with.
If you’re wondering whether car sharing would suit your needs and lifestyle, consider that 80% of the people using car sharing services were a single car household, meaning that those households have become completely car free. This means that those households aren’t just using car sharing as a once in a while solution, they are completely changing the way they travel and relate to cars.
It is no surprise that car sharing is more popular in urban areas, however, it is expected that groups of friends or family members in more regional areas will begin their own peer to peer car sharing strategies to reduce car use and car ownership.
In addition to combating pollution problems, car sharing is also seen as a way to reduce congestion on the road, and parking problems. As car sharing grows in popularity the system becomes more affordable and easier to use, which in turn will encourage more people to use it, and forgo their own vehicle all together.
Benefits of Car Sharing
One of the biggest issues with your car will be its fuel consumption. It is costly for you and it is bad for the environment. A study has found that divers traded in vehicles with an average fuel consumption of 23 mpg, to use shared vehicles which achieve an average of 33 mpg. This is because the majority of vehicles offered by car sharing companies are hybrids, sedans and compact cars, reducing the number of SUVs, sports cars and other high consumption vehicles on the road which is better for the environment. The increased fuel efficiency also means savings for the car sharing members.
Car sharing members can also benefit from the system because they no longer have to pay for car insurance, the cost of buying a car or repaying a loan, the cost of servicing the car or paying for new parts during regular maintenance. The costs of owning and running a car very quickly add up, and unfortunately they are not the only costs which come out of the monthly budget in your household. In addition you have to pay your mortgage or rent, utilities, phone bills and grocery costs, so imaging how much you’d have left over at the end of the month if you could wipe out your vehicle costs.
In the US alone there are over 300,000 people using car sharing services and saving hundreds of dollars each month, by only paying for a car when they need it. When you have to consciously think about when you are going to need a car, you will find that you are more likely to walk to the shops or ride your bike to your friend’s house, and only jump in the car when it is really necessary.
How to Use Car Sharing
While there is no doubt that car sharing can be much more affordable than owning and running your own car, that doesn’t mean this solution will suit everyone. However, you may be suited to car sharing if you:
- Drive less than 7,500 miles per year.
- You don’t use your car every day.
- You are able to walk, ride your bike or catch public transport for short trips to the store for example.
- Live in a busy urban area as you’re more likely to find a car sharing company and be able to get around when you don’t have the car.
- You are over 21 years old.
- Have a good driving record.
- If you are under 21 and want to use car sharing there are a number of specialised services for college students to use for example, and you simply need to prove you have a good driving record.
The bigger the city in which you live, the more car sharing companies there will be, so you will also be able to shop around and find the best rates on the services you need. In most cases the cars available will be small compact cars, but some will also offer trucks, SUVs and midsized cars if you need to transport large groups of people, take home purchases from the hardware store or move furniture. At the same time it is a good idea to call the company in advance to check on the types of vehicles and their availability.
You can choose to rent a car from a car sharing company by the hour or by the day. hourly rates for car sharing can range from $3 per hour to $12 per hour, while a day rate can be anything from $50 to $112. However, all of the costs for maintaining the vehicle will be included in that price so you don’t have to pay for fuel, parking or insurance. Other costs you may need to account for will be a monthly membership fee to be a part of the car sharing program, and a once off application fee. These are the costs you should be comparing when you shop around for a car sharing company.
You can rent out a shared car as a business or an individual, and the company will deliver the car to your home, office or wherever you want to drive from. To return the car you can simply repark the car in the company’s shared lot and it is ready for the next person to use it. If you’re worried about the unreliability of not having access to a car of your own, you can reserve a vehicle for several months in advance of the time you need it.
Car Sharing or Car Rental
Of course, car sharing is a type of car rental, but what sets it apart is the fact that car sharing is specifically designed to be a convenient solution for people who only want to rent a car for a short period of time – for example a few hours. In this way you are only billed for your usage based on how far you have travelled.
With a car sharing service you can also access a vehicle at any time, not just during business hours. The companies also make sure their vehicles are distributed around town so that there is one conveniently parked for you to easily pick up.
Passionate about finance and money saving, Alban loves sharing his opinion online and help others making good decisions. When he is not blogging, he offers tips on car loans
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