The concept of car sharing first appeared in Europe in the 1940’s, however it didn’t become popularized until the early 1990’s in Switzerland and Germany.  For nearly twenty years, worldwide participation in car sharing has spread rapidly to several other European countries, as well as North America and the Far East. Today, car sharing operates in approximately 600 cities around the world, spanning 18 nations on 4 continents.

The recent upsurge in car sharing programs has taken hold largely in response to the steady rise in fuel prices.  Moreover, parking in many of the world’s more prominent cities is limited and costly, further increasing the expenses associate with owning and operating a vehicle.  These alarming trends have prompted many of today’s premier property developers to offer car sharing programs in their new housing developments.  Condo buyers across the region are taking a serious look at the significant financial benefits of living in a building that offers this amenity.  After all, condo purchasers are an audience who is used to the idea that shared resources are a good thing.

The main principle of car sharing is simple –

Owning a car means keeping it in good condition and the time and expense that goes along with it.   Alternate modes of transportation such as public transit, walking and cycling, while essential, have many limits, which drive people to purchase their own vehicles, even though many don’t drive enough to justify the trouble and expense of owning a car.  Car sharing provides a very neat solution, offering most of the benefits of car ownership without the worry of gas, maintenance, insurance, parking as well as the unfortunate and untimely costs that repairs and theft may incur.

Conversely, The costs of car sharing are transparent. All costs are included, and there are no extra fees for insurance or taxes, as is often the case with car rental models.  The pay-as-you-drive basis is most beneficial for those maintaining an annual driving average of less than 12,000 km.  This is especially the case for those living in urban areas with good public transport infrastructures.

Car sharing can be convenient for people in other ways too. For example, some people buy huge vehicles, far bigger than what they would need on a daily basis, for the occasional trip or errand. Car sharing offers versatility in vehicle choice. Get a truck the day you need to transport bulky items or travel in a large group, but go for the smaller, environmentally-friendly car to run minor errands.

Furthermore, car sharing provides an incentive for people to decrease individual car usage, and instead use public transport, a bike or to walk – creating an immediate healthy impact on lifestyle and the environment.

At the end of the day, car sharing is not just about driving cars – it is about adapting different attitudes towards transportation and getting around; changing consumer behaviours in an oil-dependent world; and reducing the amount of CO2 into the environment.  On the most pragmatic and immediate level – driving less means paying less – which is always a good thing!