What Is Car Sharing and How Does It Work?

April 25, 2022 by First Federal Bank

car-1Car sharing is an increasingly popular means of getting around. But even as it becomes more widespread, you may be wondering what it is, how it works, and how it stacks up to other forms of transportation. Is it green? Can it save you money? As with most things, the answers depend on a lot of factors. Still, one thing is clear: car sharing is here to stay.


What is car sharing?


Car sharing is an alternative to renting or owning a car. The underlying idea is not unlike that of renting: when you need a car, just book one and go pick it up. The difference with traditional car renting is that once you’ve signed up for a car sharing app and met the conditions of membership, you can use the app to access a car at any time. “And because the cars are spread around town in reserved parking, chances are there’s one such parking close to where you live, making it easy to walk to it,” writes Michael Graham Richard for Treehugger. It’s a very convenient way to obtain and pay for a ride only when you need one without being limited by business hours or the need for transportation to the car rental location.


How does car sharing work?


To begin car sharing, you just need the internet. Determine what car sharing operators are available in your area and check the requirements for becoming a member. The biggest operator in North America, Zipcar, says, “all you need is to be 21 or older and have a valid driver’s license.” If you meet those requirements, you can register online, pick a rate plan, and you’re good to go. All that’s left to do is to use the app to find the reserved parking areas where shared cars are located. Most apps offer different types of models, ranging from compact cars to pickup trucks. Reserve your car and, once you get to it, unlock it using the app. When you’re done using it, just return it somewhere near your destination, though some car sharing programs may require you to leave the vehicle at specific stations.


How much does car sharing cost?


One of the benefits of car sharing is that you only pay for the time or mileage you need. Apps may let you choose between rates based on days, hours, minutes, or miles. Additionally, “gas, insurance, and maintenance are included in the fee — and sometimes parking,” says PopularMechanics.com. Rates can vary widely depending on provider, so you may need to do some math to determine if your local car sharing service is more affordable than renting. That said, if you live in a big city and only occasionally need a ride, it’s almost certainly going to be more affordable than owning.


Is car sharing green?


In most cases, car sharing is more eco-friendly than owning a car. “Depending on the location, each shared car can replace between six and 20 cars, and most shared fleets are recent models with the latest emission control,” says Richard. Additionally, many modern car sharing fleets offer hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles. Cities and universities have been eager to promote car sharing because they reduce traffic, not only because it reduces the number of people who own a car but also because having to pay for every use encourages car sharers to travel by bicycle or public transportation when possible.


Car sharing is a rapidly growing approach to modern transportation. However, availability is best in cities. If you live in a rural area where car sharing programs are scarce and points of interest are divided by long stretches of road, it will be some time before anything beats having your own personal vehicle.

Categories: Vehicles

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