Car Sharing: What Is It and Who It Is For?

An in-depth guide on the art of car sharing. Car Sharing: What Is It and Who It Is For? drivrzone.com

Ever hear anyone talk about car sharing?  Some of the population might know what it is, but there are others that would look at you funny.  Those that don’t know would probably think of the first thing that comes to mind, which is sharing your car with someone else.  Some of you might think it is those places on the side of the road where you park and ride with someone else.  Others may simply think of a car rental place like at an airport that people use while on trips.  However, the concept is close, but there are differences and we are going to discuss the ins and outs of car sharing in this blog.

Car Sharing Defined vs Car Rental

Car sharing is a type of rental car system.  The difference is that car sharing is more for those who are looking to rent a vehicle for shorter periods of time, or shorter distance trips.  This allows patrons of the service to only pay for the times they have the vehicle or how far they would travel.  The principal of this service is to provide people who may not be able to afford a vehicle on their own, a method of transportation that is more flexible than regular forms of transit.

The other difference between this and car rental service is the hours available.  These are available at any hour, not just during business times.  Also, the wide range available makes the likelihood of one being close to you all the better.  These can be available in reserved parking lots, or even down the road at a convenience store.

How Does it Work?

Search

The first thing you will do is a google search in your area for “car sharing”, which means put in the place you live as well.  If you live in the bigger cities, your chances of finding these services are really good, however, not so good if you live in more rural areas.  Another way to search for the service is to look up a “list of car sharing operators”.

Service to Join 

Once you find a service in your area that you have researched and feel comfortable with, you will join their club.  Most of these clubs require you to be at least 21 years old, hold a valid driver’s license, and have a good driving record.  In most cases, your gas and insurance are covered in your membership fee, you will only then have to pay for the time and mileage on the vehicle.  Once you fill out the online registration and pick your rate plan, it will give you a list of where cars are located in your area.

Reserve

Once you know where the vehicles are located, all you need to do is pick the type of vehicle you will want to use.  Some of the services carry more than one type of vehicle in their fleet.  So if you need a truck for heavy hauling, or a standard car to just go run errands, you just need to pick which one is closest to you and what kind you would like.

Go Pick Up

Most of the clubs you will join will send you a membership card with an RFID chip in it.  This will unlock their vehicles in their fleet.  So once it is reserved, all you have to do now is to go get your vehicle.  That’s it, when you are done, return the vehicle to the original parking spot and lock.

Types of Car Sharing

There are different types of car sharing programs available right now.  These are dependant on the area you live in.  Bigger cities have more programs available and smaller rural areas may have a small one, but maybe not as readily available.

Peer-to-Peer

This is where existing car owners in a community allow their vehicles to be available for others to rent for short periods of time.  Software is made available that matches owners of these cars to be matched to others the need to rent a vehicle for short term use.

Business to Consumer

Companies will own a fleet of vehicles and facilitate the sharing between members for more larger-scale use or need.

Not-For-Profit / Co-Op

This happens to be the least common, in which an organization or community that using the sharing of vehicles, will provide the vehicles for social and environmental purposes instead of the profit.

Free-Floating

This is where users can pick up and drop off the vehicles anywhere.  This doesn’t mean that a car will be available in your area, but it is convenient.

Round-Trip

Vehicles are picked up and dropped off in the same location, this gives the company the ability to keep track of their fleet.

A-B

This allows users to pick up vehicles at one spot and drop them off at another.  This way the cars are still in an acceptable location but more flexible.

Car Sharing Benefits

Money

Owning your own vehicle can be costly, especially if all your doing is going to and from work, or the occasional shopping trip.  You have to figure the monthly cost of a newer vehicle, oil changes every 3000 miles or so, maintenance of the vehicle, and of course insurance held on the vehicle.  Instead of you taking on all the financial burden of this, car sharing spreads it out to numerous people.

Emissions

Car sharing will, in the long run, will take more vehicles off the road.  It might not seem like it, but people who tend to use this service, tend to do more walking and biking for minuscule tasks.  Taking more people off the road and sitting in traffic will decrease the amount of air pollution that cars send out.

Depending on the location of these car-sharing programs, the fleets are usually made up of newer models and hybrids.  So these are more fuel efficient and give off fewer emissions, as well as the fact that soon according to the popularity of this increase, there is talk that plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles will be added to the fleets.

Road Work

The fewer cars on the roads, the fewer times roads will have to be fixed.  Wear and tear on roadways become an issue not only for city workers and taxpayers but also for other motorists.  These issues will not only damage other people vehicles in the form of kicked up debris from other vehicles in front of them, to ruts in the roads that cars will bottom out on.  Also, fewer vehicles on the roads will also mean no more need for expanding the roadways.

Convenience

Some people buy vehicles purely out of the need of possibilities.  What we mean by that, is that people often buy a vehicle that is too large for what they need on a daily basis.  This would include buying a truck for the possibility of moving large items, or an occasional trip.  This would allow you to rent a truck for just the time you need to move something large, or on moving day itself.  Since most of the bigger car sharing companies offer different types of vehicles, you could rent a convertible and let your hair blow in the wind if you want to take a day trip, or for minor runs like errands, you could rent a hybrid type vehicle.

Health?

Now this one is still in some debate, as to whether this would benefit your health.  If you have no vehicle, you will need to walk, or bike to wherever you are going.  For some, in the long run, this will benefit your health, because it will keep you fit instead of sitting for long periods of time.  Some people start to depend on vehicles and get lazy, so instead of walking to the corner market or convenience store, they drive the two blocks.  If you are looking to improve some activity in your life, this is one way of doing it.

Who Benefits?

Elderly

Some elderly people cannot afford to own a car, or even have family around to help drive them to their grocery store.  This would benefit them in that they could rent the vehicle when they need it and only pay for while they have it.  Some could say would be cheaper than taking a cab in these situations.

Big City Dwellers

Anyone living in a big city and parking is nonexistent or even having a vehicle is darn near impossible.  Also, anyone looking to commute to work each day and end up putting their vehicle through the wringer and end up spending more money on maintenance.  This is an option to help with the parking dilemma and not spend as much money.  Considering that bigger cities are looking to charge drivers a fee to enter busier areas of the city, this would be an option.

What the Future Holds

It is undeniable that at the rate the population is growing, that more and more cities will be expanding and taking over the urban population.  While this happens, more people will want easier and more accessible ways of transportation to get where they need to go.  If the world is smart in the future, cities can be designed to accommodate this need and allow more bike paths, walking paths and more public transportation.  Car sharing can help in this and be there for people who need transportation more easily accessible and for the daily commute.  All these ways are less expensive than owning a car, especially in the city.

If you decide that car sharing is the best for you, you might end up selling your vehicle in the end.  Saving yourself some money each month is always a bonus in this day and age when the cost of everything seems to keep going up.  Make sure you do your own research before deciding whether or not car sharing is best for you.  These are just some of the tips that can hopefully help you make a decision or at least get started.

Sources

  1. Popist – Who benefits from car sharing
  2. Auto How stuff works – Car sharing works
  3. Carsharing Association – What is car sharing
  4. Automotive Technologies – Car sharing
  5. Tree Hugger – What is car sharing and how does it work
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