It used to be the case that if you found yourself car-less, your only option was an expensive rental contract, or rely on public transport and hope for the best. However, things have progressed in recent years and many city workers are actually opting to drive daily – without the hassle and cost of ownership, thanks to car sharing services.
According to NerdWallet, the cost of owning a car that’s driven about 15,000 miles is about $8,469 per year. That includes car payment, insurance, gas, maintenance, repairs and registration fees. For the average city dweller, add to that the cost of parking. All told, owning a car can be expensive – even prohibitive.
But several car sharing services now allow people to drive – and pay – for a vehicle only when they need it. Here are some of the ways to get your hands on a set of wheels – without the onus of ownership.
Renting a car by the hour
Sometimes you just need to get from A to B, but you’d rather drive yourself than have to hang around for a taxi. Services like Zipcar charge a membership fee, plus a low hourly rate. Available in over 500 cities, cars can be picked up and dropped off in one of their designated spots. Zipcar also offers longer rental contracts. Other traditional rental car companies have also started to offer short-term rentals, including Enterprise and Hertz.
One of the downsides to renting a car is that you normally have to return it to a specific place by a certain time. However, new car sharing services allow you to pick up a car parked near your location, drive it to where you need to go and then leave it there for the next person to pick up. These are known as point-to-point rentals. After a $5 registration, Car2go is $15 per hour or $59 per day. BMW also offers its own version of this point-to-point service called ReachNow. With ReachNow, BMWs and Minis are available by the minute starting at $0.41. A day rental can start at $110. Registration is a bit more pricy at $39, and the service is currently available in only 3 cities.
Private car rental
Many car owners are now making money from their vehicles by renting them out to other people using companies like Turo or Getaround. These two car share services allow private car owners to advertise their car for a set price. You then arrange to pick up the car from them, borrow it for the time agreed before returning it.
Turo, which has everything from sedans to supercars, ranges from $10 to hundreds of dollars per day. A Nissan Sentra was listed for just $22 per day. A Maserati Quattroporte could be yours (for the day) for $249. Getaround, another peer-to-peer car service, also lets cars make money when they would otherwise be parked. Available in eight cities, rentals start at $5 per hour.
Longer term rentals
If you need a car for a longer period of time, but don’t want to be tied to a lease, many firms now offer the chance to rent for a month or two. Many of the traditional rental companies, such as Hertz, Budget and Enterprise have long-term rental programs. Turo also offers long-term rentals. A two-month rental from Budget for a Volkswagen starts at $1,781. That’s not cheap, but it’s definitely less than trying to break a lease.
One of the newest ways to drive a car without owning it is through a car subscription services. Costing a bit more than a regular lease, subscription services come with perks, like including maintenance and insurance. You can also swap cars out to try other models throughout the year.
BOOK by Cadillac is one of these subscription services. Members pay a one-time $500 enrollment fee, and then shell out $1,800 a month to drive premium Cadillac models. You can use the vehicles for up to 30 consecutive days at a time, and exchange vehicles up to 18 times per year. Volvo began offering a similar service for only $600 per month in November 2017, but requires a two-year agreement. Porsche Passport costs $2,000 a month for access to eight Porsche models. $3,000 a month gives you access to 22 models per calendar year. For a more affordable plan, you can also check out Canvas, the subscription service from Ford. Canvas starts at $429 per month for entry level vehicles.
With more car sharing services popping up, particularly in congested urban spaces, you can still be a full-time car driver without ever owning your own car. With ever increasing costs for fuel, repairs and also the environmental issues associated with individual car ownership, the car sharing model is certainly on the rise and will be an interesting space to watch.
Article written by James Burke. James is a freelance writer who specializes in motoring and automotive field. He writes for Big Motoring World and when he is not filling a blank page on his laptop he spends his free time hanging out in his local coffee shop reading the latest Stephen King book.