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Car sharing means fewer car sales, according to study

Enterprise car-sharing ad

A new study says car sharing has already cost U.S. auto dealers a lot of car sales over the past few years –and the trend will accelerate in the future.

John Hoffecker of AlixPartners says car-sharing services like ZipCar reduced car purchases by 500,000  between 2006 and 2013.

The AlixPartners study focused on 10 metro areas where car-sharing services are well established.

Hoffecker says nearly half of people who used a car-sharing service either ended up never buying a car, or selling one they had, after car sharing proved both cheaper and more convenient than car ownership.

"Parking can be a challenge," says Hoffecker of car ownership in a large city.  "And then just the cost – not even just the vehicle cost – the parking cost."

Hoffecker thinks car sales will be depressed by another million by the year 2020.  

And he says once automated cars become a reality, the pace of car sharing replacing car owning will pick up.

Hoffecker says car-sharing companies will probably be early adopters of self-driving cars.  That could make it easier for customers to get a self-driving car to pick them up than to call a taxi.

"That would allow much more easy access for individuals to get the car," he says, "and a much simpler process to send it back."

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.