Car ownership may be a thing of the past, as Holden and Ford explore the possibility of duplicating a car sharing scheme created in the United States and now being piloted around the world in various forms.
In New York, a city legendary for having a large amount of cars and few available parking spaces – those that are available being incredibly expensive – Chevrolet is allowing drivers to pay around $1500 a month to gain access to whatever vehicle they like. Owners can change the car up to 18 times within a 12 month period, meaning that you can have a convertible sports car during summer, and a sensible SUV, suitable for skiing, during the winter season. While it does mean that owners don’t technically own anything, it also has the distinct advantage of allowing drivers to always have a basically new car constantly, and not have to worry about long-term values, or resale values. With regards to the parking availability in New York City, it is important because of a similar program being conducted by Audi in Hong Kong. An arrangement was reached where Audi would supply an apartment block with an allocation of Audi vehicles which could be build into the owners lease agreement. The building had nearly a thousand apartments, and a little under 500 car parks, which meant that – obviously – most apartment owners wouldn’t have a parking space. The arrangement means that the parking cost itself is no longer an issue, and that money can be allocated to choosing an Audi which the owner won’t have to worry about long-term. There is talk of echoing the system in other cities, including Chevrolet thinking of expanding their offering to include inner city car parking.
This is important for Holden and Ford, as they are no longer in the top two of Australian car sellers, having been overtaken by Toyota, Mazda, and Hyundai. Now seeking a new advantage, they may have found it in car sharing. The advantage that Holden and Ford have is their appeal across a range of demographics – including sports cars, family sedans, and small cars that will appeal to a range of people. More importantly, it will mean they can appeal to families and individuals as a range, and not a singular vehicle, which is crucial in a car sharing system.
With population concentration in major cities only increasing, it makes sense that the ownership of vehicles would be consolidated but it remains to be seen as to whether Australians will be willing to give up what many see as a part of the Australian dream, so that they can have more flexibility and less ownership issues.