“Car Sharing” – An Idea Destined to Go Nowhere

Here’s another way to avoid buying a lemon vehicle. Don’t buy a car. Heck, don’t even own a car.

On a recent flight back to Indiana, I picked up one of those in-flight magazines. In it was an article about Zipcar.com. Zipcar is a car sharing company. What is car sharing? It involves the online reservation of a vehicle, located in an urban neighborhood, anywhere from minutes to months prior to needing the vehicle. Then you just show up, punch in a code, and drive away. The rates range from 8 to 11 dollars an hour.

It doesn’t sound like you get a whole lot of car for that rate, either. The article mentions Mini Coopers, Toyota Priuses, Scion xBs and Honda Elements as some of the primary rental vehicles.

Zipcar, the largest company in the industry, currently has more than 2,500 cars and 80,000 members nationwide. The articles talks about how the companies are bullish on the possibilities of growth in the industry, but I’d be surprised to see this idea ever really take hold in the United States. First, it’s only really viable in upscale urban areas with strong public transportation systems. That pretty much eliminates all of Indiana right there. Second, people love their cars. My grandfather always said cars were a “necessary evil,” but I’m pretty sure many people wouldn’t agree. Your car can be a statement about who you are in addition to providing transportation. And they are FREEDOM.

No doubt cars are expensive, especially when you factor in the cost of gas, insurance, maintenance, parking and other incidental costs. But to most they are worth it.