Thursday, October 18, 2018

Comparison of the Cost of Car Ownership with Car2Go and Zipcar

Arlington,Virginia, one of the most progressive cities in terms of promoting carsharing options as part of their TDM (Transportation Demand Management) program, last year released a very useful analysis comparing the cost of car ownership with one way (Car2Go) and round trip (Zipcar) carsharing at the rates current in 2017,

The comparison (PDF) not only used cost of a new car, which most comparison use, but additional scenarios of 5 year and 13 year old used vehicles.  The study compared driving

  • 1,000 miles annually (19 miles per week)
  • 3,000 miles annually (38.5 miles per week) 
  • 6,000 miles annually (115 miles per week)

Comparisons were made for both one-way and round trip services.  Possible costs of parking a private car were not included in the cost of ownership.

The results won't surprise those familiar with carsharing economics:
  • 1,000 miles per year - All car-share options are less expensive than even owning a new car
  • 3,000 miles per year - Car-sharing is equal or less expensive than most car-ownership scenarios
  • 6,000 miles over year - Car-share is less expensive than owning a new car but not 5 and 13 year old used cars
Of course, the consumer decision to own a vehicle is more complicated than simply annual VMT - convenience perhaps being the biggest factor in many peoples' minds.   The city's summary of the report says it this way:
  • Under 2,000 VMT annually, car-share appears the most economically efficient on a household level.
  • Over 6,000 VMT annually, car ownership is, in almost all cases, economically more efficient than car-share.
  • Car-share services are best used as regular first-last-mile connectors and for infrequent trip taking.
  • Arlington residents owning more than one vehicle or considering buying their first vehicle are most likely to realize considerable savings by using car-share.
The county's main carsharing web page describes the partnerships with carsharing companies and has links to additional details of the study, including the cost assumptions that were used in the comparisons.

The county's TDM website, CommuterPage describes carsharing options like this,