So, what's the reason people get into carsharing? Is it a "romanticized view of access understood as a form of collaborative consumption and altruistically motivated"? Or is it more about practical realities – that car sharing is really about affordability and convenience?

For Lee Broughton, head of corporate sustainability at Enterprise Holdings, there's an urban myth that idealizes and romanticizes carsharing. Broughton sees carsharing as something more practical than any urban myth, and that this pragmatic view supports long-term sustainability.

In his blog, Broughton cites two articles to explain his take on the matter. The previous reference to "collaborative consumption and altruistically motivated" comes from a study in the Journal of Consumer Research by Fleura Bardhi of Northeastern University and Giana M. Eckhardt of Suffolk University. In their study, the authors had interviewed users of Zipcar carsharing services and found that consumers don't feel any psychological sense of ownership from the experience. As we wrote in August, the study says that carsharing needs a more realistic and less ideological approach to make it work for consumers.

Broughton also makes reference to an article from the December issue of Journal of Consumer Research, where Bardhi and Eckhardt explored consumer attitudes about ownership and sharing. "Instead of buying and owning things, consumers want access to goods and prefer to pay for the experience of temporarily accessing them," they write. While attitudes are changing and consumers are more open to sharing a vehicle, affordability and convenience are very important to carsharers, according to Broughton. The study also reveals that clean, well-maintained vehicles and access to new and different car models are critical issues for carsharing customers. Transportation needs to be environmentally, operationally and financially sustainable, Broughton wrote.

Enterprise Rent-A-Car does have a dog in this fight, recently entering the carsharing field with its Enterprise CarShare division. This service first came to the Boston and New York City markets. Enterprise joins ranks with Hertz and major global automakers in carsharing arena. It may not be not altruistically motivated, but it does tie in well with the environmental, operational and financial objectives for these companies.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 17 Comments
      Marcopolo
      • 1 Day Ago
      @ LTW, As I understand the car-sharing concept, there appear to be two business models. 1) A collective. This business model provides for a group of individuals to buy a vehicle(s) as a collective, sharing the expenses and right to use the vehicle. Since the original concept was to be 'not-for- profit' , but about reducing car ownership, this is where the 'altruistic' reputation arose. 2) A simpler form of car rental scheme. The renter becomes a 'member' of a car rental service, , and can use any car that's available from a 'rank' , leaving the car at any rank. The member has no 'ownership' outside of just paying his fees. This business model appears to be just a sophistication of the existing car rental business model. I maybe missing something, but it occurs to me that the "car sharing" term, has lost it's original meaning, and is now largely a marketing ploy.
        The Wasp
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Marcopolo
        There's another model -- Enterprise's model, if I'm not mistaken. Charge a membership fee and also charge by hour/by day. In the end, it's significantly more expensive than just getting a normal rental but using the term 'car sharing' may fool some people.
        Letstakeawalk
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Marcopolo
        I think the simplest model of car-sharing is best: "Taxi" No membership fees, someone else drives, door-to-door service.
      fly by wireless
      • 1 Day Ago
      Is a car a fast mode of transport OR is it a weather-protected mode of transport... You decide.... False dichotomies! Americans, why doest thou insist on minds that can only process one concept at a time? Why canst thou not reconcile truths that can exist in parallel?
      kEiThZ
      • 1 Day Ago
      Had a Zipcar membership for two years. Never used it once. The problem was that there were simply no cars located near my parents place (where I visited frequently sans car). The amount of time it took by transit to access the vehicles, meant that I'd rather just do my chores than try and get the car first, or try and borrow somebody else's vehicle. They need more locations for Zipcar to be practical. And the locations have to be at malls and transit stations.
      Letstakeawalk
      • 1 Day Ago
      It's a business model.
        Letstakeawalk
        • 1 Day Ago
        @Letstakeawalk
        Specifically, it's an Enterprise advertisement. Nothing wrong with that, but that's the source link. I did think this rather funny: "To that end, we operate Enterprise CarShare as an extension of our unique Enterprise Rent-A-Car neighborhood network – which includes almost 1 million vehicles and more than 5,500 offices located within 15 miles of 90 percent of the U.S. population. In fact, last month we introduced the Enterprise brand into retail car sharing for the first time, starting in Boston and New York City." First thought, "Great, I live a few blocks from my local Enterprise - this will be fun!" Second thought, "Oh, when they say they operate as an extension... that's a bunch of BS *unless* you live in their two markets - Boston and NYC. When will my local Enterprise offer car sharing? And more importantly, will they finally be open on Sundays? (Renting from their competitor next door next week, to visit the wife's family over Christmas. Ford Focus, seven days, $120.)
          bluepongo1
          • 1 Day Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          @LTAW nice RANT-A-Car. ;)
          Letstakeawalk
          • 1 Day Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          Hey, don't down-vote bluepongo1. I *was* ranting...
          bluepongo1
          • 1 Day Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          Don't worry about down votes, I don't. Clearly some folks didn't see the humor intended or they have a grudge. But I'm glad you got it and weren't offended! Happy Holidays/ Seasons Greetings @ LTAW
      Marcopolo
      • 1 Day Ago
      @ LTW Lol, but car ownership means different things to different people ! For some, it's the pleasure of owning a physical expression/reward for success and achievement. For others it's an expression of lifestyle. Families gain economy and mobility. Teens see cars as a private place to help continue the species. Style, fashion, emotion are all tied into car design, combining in a complex dynamic with practicality,and convenience. But there are those who don't really enjoy cars, or driving much, so I guess this program may suit them. Or, they could hire a driver....
      Letstakeawalk
      • 1 Day Ago
      "Rental" is indeed a good business model, however, it doesn't really apply to the less-than-a-day sort of use that "car sharing" is trying to address. On the contrary, I think the rental agencies have done quite well allowing customers to ask for and get specific cars. Naturally, there must be payment (don't see why you bring that up as a downside - car shares are more expensive per use), but you can rent anything from a micro car, to a Prius, to a convertible, to a pick-up or SUV, all you have to do is ask. Perhaps there might be some vagaries when you reserve a "Compact" as to whether you'll get a Hyundai Elantra or a Ford Focus or a Chevy Cruise - but within rental brackets the cars are all pretty much equivalent in terms of utility. At any rate, you have absolutely *no* choice with a car share - you get what's they have, regardless of what you need.
      Letstakeawalk
      • 1 Day Ago
      I entirely agree... I am a huge car enthusiast so I understand the multitude of reasons why people would desire to own their own automobile. However, "car sharing" programs are marketed to people who for a variety of reasons don't already own a car. In most cases, a taxi makes much more sense.
      brotherkenny4
      • 1 Day Ago
      A lot of people buy into "fluffy" things. For instance, on the right they think that giving wealthy people special preferential treatment will be beneficial to us all, and on the left they believe that psychology is a real science, and there is no evidence that either of these things is real . On the other hand, many people look at numbers and particularly cost numbers, and while possibly cheaper, carsharing doesn't really advertise that, so perhaps they are not less expensive. I mean really who knows, since mostly they want to talk about the soft silly things, much like ABG, rather than some evidential information like numbers. Of course, when we are unable to do the math, as americans typically are, then the magical mystical wonders of beliefs and dreams is all you have as a basis for decisions which will determine the future of the country.
        kEiThZ
        • 1 Day Ago
        @brotherkenny4
        Psychology is a social science. And if you don't know what that means, you're the ignorant one. This is coming from someone with an engineering degree by the way.
      2 wheeled menace
      • 1 Day Ago
      Nobody takes care of something better than the person that owns it. Nobody takes worse care of something than someone who doesn't. Car sharing programs will be more expensive than owning a car due to this neglect factor. I don't think they're sustainable in any way.
      imoore
      • 1 Day Ago
      "I think the simplest model of car-sharing is best: "Taxi" No membership fees, someone else drives, door-to-door service." Add "Rental" to that list, also. The downsides: you must pay for the privilege, you may not get what you want, and you don't know what surprises come with it.
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