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Car Sharing — How to Share a Car without Owning One

car sharing

Have you heard of sharing a car without owing one?

Considered a prime example of the shared economy, car sharing is a concept that has already been embraced by more than 1.5 million people worldwide.

The city of Seoul joined their ranks in March with the launch of its “Car-Sharing” service offering on-demand access to a car without the need for ownership.

car sharing 2

The number of cars registered in Korea in 2013 stands at some 19 million. Dividing the population of 50 million into four-person families leaves the average family each owning 1.5 vehicles. However, those vehicles are not used all of the time.  In fact, people drive their cars only for 1-2 hours per day in average that owing a car is not really necessary. Car sharing allows you to save at least KRW 600,000 (approximately US$541) per month than owing a car. more and more people are paying attention to car sharing these days as car sharing also allows you to avoid parking problem, car maintenance and other car related problems. This is why as an alternative to vehicle ownership, interest in car sharing has recently been revived.

Car Sharing and Car Rental

The concept of car sharing is similar to car rental in that a vehicle is borrowed for a specified amount of time or distance. Both also eliminate the high cost of car ownership, as a vehicle can be used when needed simply by making a reservation. However, there are also some notable differences between the two. Car sharing services operate on a trust-based membership system. As such, members tend to feel a sense of ownership for the vehicles and consideration for other group members. In car sharing programs, members can also use a vehicle whenever they want, even for just a short period of time.

Advantages of Car Sharing

According to some research, car sharing service results in 12.5 fewer cars on the road a consequent lowering of CO2 emissions and pollution.  In addition, the economic burden of car ownership is eliminated entirely for individuals. Thus car sharing is generally regarded as an eco-friendly alternative with high affordability for its practitioners.

Commercializing Car Sharing

The concept of car sharing was first introduced in the Swiss city of Zurich in 1948 under the name “Selbstfahrergenossenschaft” meaning self drive cooperative. The idea failed to catch on, however, largely because of the difficulty in organizing collection and return of vehicles.

Today, with the ubiquity of smartphones and the Internet, it is relatively easy to locate a vehicle, make a reservation, and pay for its use. It was this ease of use that made introduction of a car sharing service in Korea viable.

Watch Like my car anywhere, Car Sharing – SoCar:

Seoul’s Car Sharing Service

Seoul’s car sharing service is available to anyone over 21 years of age who holds a driver’s license and has at least one year of driving experience (one year after obtaining a driver’s license).

Two companies — SoCar and Green Car — operate the service. Users choose their preferred provider and become members on the company website. A car can then be reserved at any time for any length of time via the Internet or mobile phone. An Automated Reply System message informs the user where to collect the car at an assigned pick up point.

After joining SoCar on the website, users can upgrade to full membership by registering their driver’s license number and a payment method. A membership card, which is used to unlock and lock the vehicle, is then delivered to the member. This RFID (Radio Frequency Identification)-chipped smart card and Internet access to make an online reservation are the only two things that a user needs to use the car sharing service.

seoul car sharing

The charge for a vehicle ranges from KRW1,070 to KRW4,950 (about USD1 to USD4.40) per 30 minutes of use depending on membership level. Fuel costs are included, so the service is quite economical considering the high price of gasoline price locally. SoCar only uses eco-friendly compact cars and hybrid vehicles in its car sharing service.

There are a few rules for using the SoCar service: the vehicle must be returned on time, smoking is prohibited in all cars, carriers are mandatory for pets (except in the case of guide dogs), and the gas tank must be refilled when low. This can be done using the fuel card inside the vehicle.

The Future of Car Sharing

The market research firm Frost & Sullivan estimates that by 2016 the number of people using car sharing services will grow by 5.5 million in Europe and 4.4 million in North America.

In Seoul, more than 70,000 people signed up for the car sharing service in the two months after its launch.

Removing the economic burden of vehicle ownership and offering access to a vehicle for only as long as required, “Car-Sharing” is the perfect alternative to car ownership for modern city dwellers.

With its emphasis on “Sharing” and “Caring,” car sharing is a new way to think about affordable access to vehicles for all.

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