Carsharing is kind of weird

The NMA Foundation presents the Car of the Future weekly feature:

I don’t buy into the idea spouted by the many utopian car futurists that I would ever want to share a car I own and actually use for my personal transportation with other drivers in some sort of carsharing scheme for cash. Owning a car is much more than transporting family, friends and myself plus my stuff from point A to point B. I believe the kind of car we own and how we keep it up enriches our personal identity. Personal carsharing seems to cheapen that identity touchpoint in some way. Also, you do know what people do in cars, right? Especially if they don’t own them?  Yikes!

Experts on almost a daily basis claim that the idea of owning a car is an outdated notion. Perhaps if an owner does not look at their car as an outward extension of themselves, but rather a tool to transport themselves from A and B then, maybe then it works. But where is the fun in that? If car ownership becomes disrupted as everyone says it will be, we will all become closer to just another brick in the wall and lose the freedom to just jump in our own car and go.

I have read accounts of motorists who run one of their vehicles as a rideshare and the other as a personal car share which helps pay for running both cars.  How complicated is that?  Even with apps and algorithms, this makes life overly complicated and completely scheduled.  Maybe some folks WANT this sort of thing but nobody NEEDS this overly scheduled hyper-efficiency.

When you throw in the autonomous vehicle or AV into the carsharing mix, the scenario seems even more incredulous.

Your AV picks you up at home and takes you to work which is fairly routine. While working at your day job, your car freelances as a rideshare for passengers and deliveries. After its full day of driving to and fro, your AV miraculously is right on time to pick you up at the end of your working day, with a full complement of groceries just picked up fresh from the market from which you had ordered earlier. On the way home, you kick back in your robo massage chair inside the car, watching cable news. Now at home, you emerge from your AV refreshed and ready to spend quality time with your partner and family.

Indeed a nice fantasy born right out of the Sci Fi movie dreamscape.

Automakers, which now call themselves mobility companies, have started their own carsharing schemes which is a cross between a subscription service, an automobile leasing contract and a car rental. Similarly to ridesharing, carsharing could indeed be disruptive for rental car companies, car leasing and even car ownership. That is why automakers, I mean, mobility companies want a piece of that pie.

Since its February debut in New York City, Booking by Cadillac has already signed up close to 5,000 motorists. The monthly subscription service allows drivers to swap one automobile for another almost as easily as switching watches on your arm. This premium service costs $1,500 per month and grants a subscriber access to 10 different Cadillac models. Using a smartphone, subscribers can trade in their vehicles up to 18 times per year and may cancel the service anytime (unlike leasing a car for two years). Cadillac spokesperson Andrew Lipman says that in light of the popularity of the service already, this subscription service could soon expand to other large cities worldwide.

In March, General Motors started test driving a program called Maven Reserve.  Drivers in Los Angeles and San Francisco can rent a Chevy Tahoe or Volt up to 28 days for a flat fee. The service costs over $1000 per month and GM also offers $100 worth of fuel plus a dedicated parking space for each rental.

Car2Go is a carsharing service. After a driver qualifies and becomes a registered subscriber, he or she is then allowed to rent vehicles on an hourly, daily or by-the-minute rates. Car2Go and similar carsharing companies generally have smaller cars to rent for tooling around town but are now expanding to sedans and SUVs.  Apparently, for short trips across town, Car2Go prices are competitive with ridesharing services such as Lyft or Uber.

Experts are claiming that perhaps the days of owning a car could be fading away. I don’t see it. Car sales continue to be stronger than ever.

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The NMA Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting your interests as a motorist and citizen through the multi-faceted approach of research, education, and litigation.  The Foundation is able to offer this assistance through tax-deductible contributions. 

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If you are interested in learning more about the Car of the Future check out the following NMA resources:

NMA Driving News Feed—Over 50 Car of the Future stories are placed each month in the NMA Driving News—the go-to source for all your driving news information from around the country.

NMA’s Flipboard Magazine called Car of the Future—Over 50 stories are placed each month in this magazine devoted to the Car of the Future.  Stories featured include future car politics, industry news and thought pieces.

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