The End of Car Ownership: Will Car Sharing Catch On?

Posted by: Lydia on 8/03/2018

Category: General

The way we use cars will soon change in big ways. There is, of course, the impending release of the self-driving car. The future will also see a far more advanced use of AI in our cars. There’s even change occurring in the way we power our cars - you’ll no longer need to take a trip to the gas station if you have an electric ride at home.

Through all these trends, though, the one thing that has remained the same is your actual ownership of your car. But since the only thing that’s constant is change, there’s actually a big change on the horizon in this regard, too. Here’s a look at the concept of car sharing, and whether or not it will fully catch on in Australia.

Car sharing today

Right now, whether you own a vintage V8 or a brand-new electric vehicle, you still drive it out into the world at the start of the day, and bring it home at day’s end.

The way we use our own cars has been pretty constant, but the way in which we use other people’s cars has evolved. Uber is the most visible example of this. The ride sharing service has rapidly changed the way we think about taxi transport. A quick tap on your smartphone app will bring a private car to your door. You get to rate and review the driver once the ride is done, and oftentimes the service (and others like it that have followed) are cheaper than the standard taxi option across Australia.

These types of trends we’re seeing in our daily life means a new wave could be imminent, shifting the way we think about a car from something that is exclusively used by one person or family, to a vehicle that is shared and used by many people.

The advantages of car sharing

The advantages of car sharing can be seen in how it can address future challenges. Proponents of car sharing cite how it can help reduce congestion, pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and parking problems in cities.

While Australian tourism does a great job of promoting our hidden beaches and big Outback, Australia is actually one of the most urbanised nations in the world. And with the 2016 census showing 67 per cent of Australians now living in a capital city, this urbanisation is set to grow. More people living in cities closer to jobs and services means there is a reduced need for cars.

Where there is a need for a car, that need will usually be smaller. If a city-living Aussie only uses their car once a month for a trip out of town, justifying the expense of owning a car is difficult. With car sharing, gas, insurance and maintenance are all taken care of, and you don't have to worry about finding parking for your own vehicle. Car sharing could be a great way to save big money on transportation. If you use a car only occasionally, it may be well worth it to get a membership with a car sharing service like Flexicar or GoGet Carshare.

Car sharing is also appealing given that more jobs than ever will be remote in the future, ending the need for people to own their own cars for the daily commute.

The challenges of car sharing

The idea of car sharing has a lot going for it, but it’s not perfect - especially in a local context.

We remain a young and growing country, and the way we live will change as our cities do.

Sure, someone living in an inner-city apartment may find car sharing works for them just fine. And for those with really minimal car needs, the existence of services like Uber may even make the car sharing concept seem redundant.

But someone who has bought a home outside the city may find it hard to access car sharing services. In addition, it’s definitely not an economical option for those who commute to work, or those who must transport kids to school, sports practice, and other events requiring daily car use.

Regulatory obstructions related to parking are one of the hindrances to car sharing services in Australia. Right now it remains similar to a car rental model, where drivers must return the car to where they picked it up, which is impractical at best.

Keep it simple

Two other hurdles exist for car sharing. The first is making an effective case for change, as car sharing can make life more complex in some ways, while phenomenons like Uber have found success offering something simpler.

The second is the cultural connection we have with cars. Many car fans save money for many years to buy their dream car - and nobody wants to share a car like that once they have it.

Car sharing is another chapter in the ongoing evolution of automobiles. In our era especially, we are seeing a number of major trends that will deliver huge change in the future. Sure, not all of these may be applicable to the average Aussie car fan, but more options and diversity in the market are always great. Ultimately, whether car sharing evolves sufficiently to have a major impact in Australia remains to be seen.

Could you see yourself using a car sharing service in the future? Do you use one right now? Share your thoughts in the comments below:

Image: Pixabay