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How Carsharing Will Save the World

Posted April 23, 2018

New vehicles are being designed to make the carsharing easier. Image credit: Clément Bucco-Lechat via Wikimedia, CC-BY-SA-3.0

It might seem a bit of an overreaction to say that carsharing is the solution to many of the world’s problems, but by adopting shared, electric, and autonomous fleets of vehicles and rejecting individually owned, gas-powered automobiles, cities can truly eliminate many of the dangers and expenses they currently incur.

Carsharing certainly isn’t a cure-all for the world’s problems — it won’t solve world hunger or eradicate disease — but it does bring everyone closer to a utopian future. Here’s why.

Carsharing Adapts to Emerging Tech

For more than a century, futurists have been predicting all sorts of new automobile tech, such as flying cars, submersible cars, and cars in space. Electric cars and autonomous cars are merely two of those predictions that have been realized in recent years, bringing humankind closer to the idealized tech of science fiction. Yet, in nearly all these imagined futures, these innovative automobiles were individually owned and operated; not once before 15 years ago (or so) did anyone expect carsharing to be the unifying development of the transportation industry.

Yet, without carsharing, many other automotive technologies don’t make much sense. For example, few people can afford to jump on the most energy-efficient makes and models as soon as they are released; as a result, only fractions of a percent of vehicles on the road reduce harmful emissions. Yet, carsharing fleets can easily replace outdated gas guzzlers with electric vehicles, which means as more people ditch car ownership for carsharing services, a greater proportion of cars in use will run on renewable energy. The same is true with autonomous vehicles, and the same will surely be true should manufacturers begin offering flying, submersible, and space cars. Without carsharing, changes to transportation would be almost imperceptible, but when everyone has access to the latest and greatest automobile tech, the future comes faster.

Carsharing Reduces Individual Expenses

Carsharing services typically charge users a monthly subscription fee and hourly or distance rates when they use a vehicle. Yet, even with these ongoing, per-use charges, carsharing is significantly less expensive for users than traditional car ownership. Here are just some of the costs individuals avoid by opting for carsharing:

  • Initial purchase price. New cars cost tens of thousands of dollars, and those with the latest tech are even more exorbitant. Worse, as soon as a consumer drives a car off the lot, its value decreases by more than 11 percent — and it will continue to depreciate every passing month.
  • Insurance. Auto insurance is mandatory in most areas of the U.S., and premiums vary depending on the value of the vehicle and the safety of the driver. However, most drivers pay well over $1,000 every year.
  • Registration. Legally, cars must be registered with the city or state before they can go on the road. Again, exact costs depend on the vehicle, but this also typically falls into the hundreds of dollars range.
  • Maintenance. Newer cars typically need less upkeep than older cars, but every vehicle requires regular maintenance to ensure high performance. Even gearheads who can manage their own maintenance will spend money to keep their cars in top shape.

Carsharing transfers all these financial concerns from individual consumers to businesses that own carsharing fleets. Often, businesses can secure superior rates, and because the costs of a single vehicle are split among several carshare members, everyone enjoys dramatically lower costs.

Electric car at the charging station. Image via, CC0 Public Domain

Carsharing Reduces Municipal Expenses

Consumers aren’t the only ones who benefit financially from carsharing. Many cities and states eagerly anticipate the arrival of carsharing for the advantages the service provides to city planning and budgets.

Because it eliminates car ownership and encourages alternative forms of transportation, such as mass transit and human-powered transport like cycling and walking, carsharing promises to reduce the number of vehicles in use at any time. Thus, even during rush hour, roadways will be less congested. The fewer cars on the road, the less money municipalities need to spend repairing and maintaining streets and parking lots. In fact, the number of parking lots could conceivably be reduced, allowing cities to use that space for more valuable developments, like gardens and parks.

So, convinced by the inevitability of carsharing, entrepreneurs old and new are developing carshare ventures; even major car manufacturers are looking to capitalize on the trend before traditional ownership disappears for good. As more studies emerge surrounding the phenomenon of carsharing and its impacts on society, a carsharing future becomes brighter and brighter.

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