What is Car Sharing?

Car sharing has over the years evolved as a workable solution to the problems of traffic and pollution, especially in urban areas. Set on the simple model of multiple car ownership, car sharing entails members cooperating together in making use of a pool of cars, in a common geographical area.

Car sharing, as the term implies, refers to sharing of automobiles by individuals for short periods of time. Individuals can rent cars on hourly or daily basis to commute distances within a specified area.

Car Sharing

On a small scale, car sharing can be an arrangement between individuals and on a larger level it may be operated by a car rental agency. However, private sharing arrangements are usually referred to as ‘car pooling’ or ‘ride sharing’. Car sharing is seen as a cost-effective method of traveling, especially for urbanites, who prefer public transport and/or need cars only occasionally.

Car sharing originated in Switzerland where it was first launched in 1987. Thereafter is spread across Europe and finally arrived in America in 1993. However, reference to car sharing can be traced as early as the 1940s but at that time it was in an infantile stage. As the concept of car sharing caught on, various changes were made in the working of its system. Improvisations included computerized systems of operation, better parking facilities, multiple pick-up/drop points and advanced reservation facilities. Also, car sharing progressed from non-profit organizations to profit-making agencies.

How car sharing works?

A car sharing agency rents vehicles to authorized drivers for specified hours or a whole day. Advance reservation of vehicle is required and the fees may be charged per hour or per mile. Picking-up and returning the car is the hirer’s responsibility. Further, it has to be ensured that the vehicle is returned in a good and clean state.

Terms of use of car sharing usually vary according to the rental agencies and regions. Rates, inclusive of insurance and fuel charges, are pre-determined. Agencies can check driving records of hirers. They often offer customer-friendly services like drop points that are near public transport junctions.

Benefits of car sharing (Pros)

Car sharing has myriad benefits, especially in an urban set up:

  • Ideal for people who want benefits of using a car without its maintenance hassles.
  • A good alternative for individuals planning to buy a second family car.
  • An effective solution to multiple problems like traffic congestion, pollution, parking trouble, high fuel prices, etc.

Drawbacks of car sharing (Cons)

Car sharing also poses a number of difficulties:

  • It may not be feasible for everyone due to its limited accessibility
  • Due to lack of funds, the concept of car sharing has failed to catch up with majority of the population
  • It is pitted against the concept of owning a car, which is a social esteem factor in most developed countries, especially America.

In spite of its drawbacks, car sharing is seen as a progressive way of living in the current set up. Apart from being economical, it adds a social aspect to everyday life: community cooperation. Moreover, it also stands to be an eco-friendly answer to many modern day problems.

Filed Under: General


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