Carsharing, yes; owning, no - An AutoblogGreen writer's story

I need to replace my car. But, I have decided, more exactly, that I'm going carless. I currently have a car which has served me good. My late-1998 Seat Ibiza TDI Hit has reached 200,000 km on the odometer. The car has been a constant source of satisfaction. Since the TDi engines appeared in Audi in 1989, they have delivered excellent mileage, emissions and reliability. Most of the diesel craze that Europeans live in is a direct influence of that technology. However, after 9 years of good service, my car has started to show severe signs of wear and tear.

I was born and raised and am currently living in Barcelona, Spain. As with most major European cities, Barcelona has a decent network of public transport, although we locals consider it dramatically insufficient and outdated. It's also a permanent focus for political debate among different administrations and the press prints pages and pages about it.

So why rely on this for my transportation? Find out after the jump.
I can normally commute to work using public transport, although I don't live in the city center. A 10-trip ticket card costs now 6.90 EUR and it lasts the whole work week, although my average use is 5 to 6 cards per month. My distance to work is about 15 miles. Transport is heavily subsidized by local and regional governments, partly through a tax created a few years ago on top of the property tax that finances the Metro Area Transport Corporation (Àrea Metropolitana del Transport).

I tried to commute with my car to work. I thought I could save time. While it takes me about 60 minutes to get from my house, get on the local shuttle, get on the commuter train and walk from the station to work, it can take me anywhere from 20 to 90 minutes to use the car, thanks to traffic jams. Also, there is no free parking around my work (well, there is, but I gotta get there two hours before the building where I work opens to snag a spot). At current prices, a parking space near my work costs about 120 EUR per month and fuel expenses per month would also reach easily that figure. Add my yearly insurance (400 EUR) and the Road Tax (150 EUR), general maintenance bills (oil, filter changes) and that I have to change the tires. That is adding at least a prevision of 1,000 to 1,500 EUR per year. I must admit, too, that my occasional parking fines have totalled 600 EUR in the past year.

So I decided to analyse how much I use my car. Turns out it's around 400 km per month. I attend classes outside the city once or twice a week and I use my car for leisure as well. That's not too much. So I decided to dump my car (well, it's being used by my brother as a trade-in for his) and start using a car sharing scheme. My local provider is Avancar.

My savings seem obvious from the very beginning. I had considered buying a used vehicle instead of a new one, which would be into the 6,000 to 9,000 EUR range. This would have given me access to a variety of models but due to the nature of the local used car market, the best option would be a compact sedan, like a Ford Focus or a Renault Mégane. If you wondered, I can get a 4-year old Smart for that figure but their maintenance cost is very high. I also thought of buying a motorcycle for about the same price, but the numbers would be similar with slightly less gas spent and more insurance costs.

Financing the purchase with a loan (I'm a person with very modest earnings), I would have to face 24 months of 343 Euros per month, plus the additional previsions of insurance, road tax, repairs and maintenance (I'm really succeeding in getting fewer fines, believe me) which total 2,000 additional EUR per year

So in two years time, the expected time until the car needs major repairs or maintenance, the car cost would reach a monthly cost of 500 EUR - if I don't use it to commute. Using it for commuting, it would top 650 EUR. Once the car is paid, the costs would be in the range of 100 to 150 EUR which is what I have been spending so far.

With the car sharing scheme I'll be paying from 10 to 100 euros when I need the car, totaling 120 to 400 EUR per month - and I haven't got to think about parking space, gas costs, insurance or maintenance. I don't have to check if my car is up to date regarding antipollution rules, because it will at most be two years old

For longer rentals, I can also use a low-cost car rental service. A Smart would cost me 110 EUR for a 4-day weekend with full insurance and unlimited mileage and I recently hired a large van to help a friend moving totaling 42 EUR for a whole day (although I had to pay for the gas and the tolls) at Pepecar. Note that this system of low-cost rental depends a lot on how early you make the reservation.

Nevertheless. The graphic shows my actual costs estimates. It includes purchase price, gasoline, maintenance, insurance, road tax and tolls. I'll be keeping a record on AutoblogGreen of my car-free lifestyle, and welcome your advice, comments and questions. How many of you have ditched the car-ownership model?

Check the pic below for my total study.

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