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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