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What car sharing is and why it’s growing in popularity

6 June 2018

Most people know about car renting and ride sharing, but what is car sharing? Thanks to advancements in technology, this new form of mobility is growing in popularity in Australia and around the world.

Car sharing is a convenient car-hire option which lets people lease a car for an hour, a day or longer. It differs from traditional car hire because these cars are designed to be parked in convenient locations in the CBD, in the suburbs or local community spots such as libraries and supermarkets.

By downloading an app with their smartphone, users will be able to log in and locate the nearest available vehicle to drive away with.

Now that this technology is available, is this going to change the way Australians drive forever? 

Cars are king in Australia

There’s no room for debate, Australians love driving their cars and we’re not giving them up any time soon. We celebrate them at events like Bathurst and the Grand Prix. We spend our Sundays washing and polishing them. We watch movies and TV shows about them, and for most people, we spend a good portion of our money on them – but that might be changing.

As Australia’s population grows, our major cities are becoming more densely populated with high-rise residential living. Despite this rise in density, more households are still choosing to own a car.

Along with this growth in car ownership in Australia, there has also been a boost in infrastructure in public transport along with technological advancements. Those living in the CBD and inner-suburbs now find themselves with more options for travel than ever before.

Given this uptake in vehicle ownership, how will the metropolitan population solve the problem of growing congestion? The City of Sydney is already embracing short-term car ownership, known as car sharing.

How does car sharing work?

Car sharing is where a business or independent body own a fleet of cars and through your smartphone, you are able to rent and drive the nearest available vehicle to you. Similar to some bicycle sharing services, users are able to locate the nearest free vehicle using the geo-locator on their phone and input what area they plan to drop the car off.

Most car sharing companies charge by the hour and distance, similar to how a taxi calculates your fare.

Once the driver has finished using the car, the driver then parks the car either at an allocated parking spot or in a designated area. The user again uses their smartphone to log off and a fee is automatically charged to their pre-registered credit card.

Services like this have become common for most major cities across the world. A report by Phillip Boyle & Associates titled The Impact of Car Share Services in Australia shows that Sydney is leading the pack for car sharing with the most number of users across Australia. In fact, of the 66,000 people who choose to use car sharing services across Australia, 31,000 of them are based in the City of Sydney alone.

The city councils are also benefiting from car sharing as fewer cars are servicing more people. The total benefits of car sharing for the city – once you factor in the reduction in congestion, air and noise pollution and availability of kerbside parking – sits near $60,000 in value to the city each year, per ride-sharing vehicle. 

So why car share?

The average household who owns one or more cars in Australia, spends on average $332 a week after combining the cost of buying the car's petrol, registration, insurance and tolls. Phillip Boyle & Associates’ report reveals that cars are only used 15% of their lifespan, the other 85% is spent either parked or in storage. That’s a lot of money to spend on something that you only use 15% of the time.

Across the various companies that provide a car sharing service, the average rate for driving the vehicle is cheaper than catching a taxi or using a ride sharing service. This is why car sharing is of such economical value to those who live in metropolitan areas who don’t need to drive often.

On the other hand, those living in outer suburbs, regional or rural areas, car sharing is probably not a great option. 90% of the car sharing market are based in densely populated areas like Sydney and Melbourne for a reason. Car sharing may also not be suitable for people with specific driving needs such as people who live in the outer suburbs, need to travel further distances, drive children to school or need their car as part of their occupation, like tradespeople for example.

Is car sharing for you?

Car sharing provides a great service for those people who can benefit from it, but it’s not for everyone.

Some people are choosing to play the middle-ground by owning a car, but instead of buying a second, they now use a car sharing service for the days they need to run errands.

Where some people don’t feel the need to have possession of their own vehicle, some others live for their car.

Anyone who has ever owned a car can relate to the feeling of freedom having that machine gives you. Whereas others feel a greater financial burden by having that freedom. The choice is yours – but the most important thing to know, is that you have a choice.


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The information is intended to be of a general nature only. Please make your own enquiries.