To Uber or not? Why car ownership may no longer be a good deal - Pittsburgh Courier

October 18, 2017

 

Every day there’s more news about the inevitable arrival of autonomous vehicles. At the same time, more people are using ride-hailing and ride-sharing apps, and the percentage of teens getting their driver’s license continues to decline.


Given these technologies and social changes, it’s worth asking: Should Americans stop owning cars?

We’ve conducted an analysis of the all-in cost of car ownership, and we found that mobility services such as ride-hailing and ride-sharing apps – which few people today would consider their main mode of transportation – will likely provide a compelling economic option for a significant portion of Americans. In fact, if the full cost of ownership is accounted for, we found that potentially one-quarter of the entire U.S. driving population might be better off using ride services versus owning a car.

 

From dream to brutal reality

 

America’s love affair with the car and individual car ownership took off after World War II, aided by inexpensive fuel, a rising consumer class and a vast national network of highways. A new generation of young professionals moved away from the urban core to the suburbs and abandoned mass transit for transportation enabled by personal car ownership.


This shift transformed the modern American landscape, triggered a new approach to city planning and enabled urban sprawl. Cities that blossomed before WWII – New York and Boston, for example – already had and continue to use their mass transit systems. By contrast, cities whose growth mostly occurred in a post-war boom like Los Angeles, Atlanta, Houston and Denver were built and effectively designed around car ownership. It’s still typical for an American family to buy a house that has a large garage to store cars.

 

But for many people, the 1950s concept of driving as an expression of personal liberty has been replaced by the brutal reality that driving is often a tedious chore. With an average price of US$35,000 apiece in the U.S., cars are used about 4 percent of the time, during which drivers are often subjected to congested traffic.

 

On its face, spending so much money for an appliance that starts losing value immediately, takes up vast amount of our free time and is rarely used seems ridiculous. Is it time to consider a whole new approach to personal transportation?

 

Weighing costs

 

To answer this question, we built a comprehensive calculator that includes the costs of car ownership and compares it with an alternative of using mobility services, such as ride-hailing and ride-sharing apps, full-time to replace personal car ownership. The results might surprise you.

The costs of traditional car ownership go far beyond the price tag: There is also interest paid on car loans, insurance, taxes, fuel and maintenance. Some expenses are non-obvious, such as parking, property taxes and construction costs for home garages, and the value of our time.

 

Click here to read the full article: https://newpittsburghcourieronline.com/2017/10/17/to-uber-or-not-why-car-ownership-may-no-longer-be-a-good-deal/

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