Transportation is the second-largest household expense, with most budgets devoted to purchasing, operating, and maintaining private vehicles. - Photo via Zipcar.

Transportation is the second-largest household expense, with most budgets devoted to purchasing, operating, and maintaining private vehicles.

Photo via Zipcar.

Most Americans need a car to travel virtually everywhere, but in today’s sharing economy where consumers increasingly pay for access — for movies, music, and clothing  — the need to own a car may be a thing of the past, according to a new study comissioned by Zipcar.

Conducted online by The Harris Poll among over 2,000 U.S. adults, the survey revealed that 70% of American drivers believe a carsharing service is more economical than owning a vehicle. Roughly seven in 10 urban (69%) and suburban (72%) drivers across the country agreed that carsharing services are more economical than owning a vehicle. This sentiment spans across drivers of all generations — 65% of Gen Z, 73% of Millennials, 68% of Gen X, and 69% of Boomers.

Transportation is the second-largest household expense, with most budgets devoted to purchasing, operating, and maintaining private vehicles. Yet, over one-third of American drivers (37%) admit they own a car that is not driven often. Previous studies have found that the average car sits idle, parked as much as 95% of the time. 

More than six in 10 American drivers (67%) believe that only paying for a car when they need it (e.g., for commuting, shopping, or visiting family), would create newfound freedom to spend money on other things they want such as entertainment, clothing, or a vacation. American drivers across household incomes, from those making less than $50,000 (69%) to those making $100,000 or more (63%), upheld this belief.

With parking, insurance, gas, and maintenance provided, Zipcar reports its members spend less per month ($300 average) on transportation by paying per trip compared to the monthly cost ($737 average) to own a personal vehicle that may go unused. With extra cash in members’ pockets, Zipcar reports saving its membership approximately $5.2 billion a year, in addition to the the time associated with owning a car.

Fewer Personally Owned Cars Impacts Roads Nationwide

Owning a car may not only burn a hole in the pockets of car-owners nationwide but also can contribute to societal and environmental issues in the form of traffic. Nearly three-quarters of Americans — across genders, ages, incomes, generations, and regions — reported being frustrated with the amount of traffic congestion in their area (72%) and believe that if there were fewer cars on the road, there would be more opportunity to enjoy doing things in cities (73%).

Traffic decreases when less personally-owned cars are on the roadr. Zipcar claims that for every one Zipcar, up to 13 personally-owned vehicles are taken off the road. 

Additionally, according to Zipcar, carsharing drivers directly contribute to a world where cities are easier and more enjoyable to live in by:

  • Driving 40% fewer miles than before joining a carsharing network
  • Biking, using public transit, or walking the same or more after joining Zipcar (40% bike, 70% transit, 80% walk)
  • Eliminating their personally-owned vehicle after joining Zipcar (54% of Zipcar members)
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