Having access to a car has never been easier thanks to the rise in popularity of car sharing and car subscription services that provide legitimate alternatives to traditional car ownership. However, while both car subscription and car sharing prices are designed to cater to those wanting more flexibility in how they use a car, there are key differences between the two that may be more or less suitable depending on your needs and lifestyle.
With this in mind, let’s break down the key differences to find out which one may be right for you.
What Is Car Sharing?
Car sharing is closer to a typical car hire except you rent the car on an hourly basis whether that’s a couple of hours or days. Like a car rental you’ll need to pick up and drop off the vehicle to the same location which is less convenient and the choice of vehicles may be limited depending on your area. The cars you can access through a car sharing service may be owned by the car sharing company or by people in the area who want to rent out their own vehicles for certain periods of time which is often referred to as ‘peer to peer sharing’.
Examples of the former include GoGet, Hertz 24/7 and GreenShareCar while examples of the latter include Car Next Door and DriveMyCar Rentals.
This is distinctly different to a car subscription where you have exclusive access to one vehicle for a longer period of time whether that be weeks, months or years. Services like Carbar will also deliver the car to you for free if you’re within 50kms of Brisbane, Melbourne or Sydney CBD.
What Costs Do You Need To Be Aware Of?
While it’s difficult to calculate the exact cost of car sharing, as it varies widely depending on the service, model of car and length of use, there are a number of key considerations to take into account.
Car sharing prices typically requires some form of ongoing membership fee as well as a one-off joining fee on top of the cost of the rental which is calculated either on an hourly or daily basis. All other expenses are generally taken care of including insurance, registration and maintenance of the vehicle. However, it’s worth noting that while insurance is included, the excess can be on the high side unless you elect to pay extra per hour to reduce the excess. Some car sharing platforms may also charge a fee if you go above the daily kilometre allowance.
As an example, here’s a rough breakdown of the car sharing prices involved in hiring a small hatchback from a popular car sharing service:
|Monthly plan fee: $30|
|One off joining fee: $25|
|Day rental charge: $76|
|Range: limited to 150km per day|
|Insurance excess: $2,000 or $18 extra per day to reduce to $300|
|Total for a month: $4,172|
Whereas, if we compare hiring a comparable model from a car subscription service such as Carbar for a month, the breakdown would be as follows:
|Subscription cost: $155/week|
|Upfront fee: $840|
|Range: 2167km/month (26,000km per year prorated)|
|Total for one month usage: $1460*|
Unless you need short term access to a vehicle, it doesn’t make financial sense to use a car share service.
Car subscription as the name implies works more like a Netflix or Spotify subscription where you pay a weekly or monthly fee which covers everything including all the running costs such as comprehensive insurance, registration, roadside assistance and servicing. The terms may differ between car subscription services but in general you have the added flexibility to swap out the vehicle for a different model or stop your subscription entirely at any point with a minimum of two weeks notice.
It’s also worth noting that some car subscription services offer loyalty programs to long term subscribers which can reduce weekly subscription payments further.
Is Car Sharing Or A Car Subscription Best For You?
Ultimately, the question is going to come down to how long you need access to a vehicle for and which approach aligns closely with your lifestyle. Don’t make the mistake of confusing a car sharing service for a car subscription as the economics and borrowing models are vastly different. Think of a car sharing service as a car rental which means it’s ideally suited to short term usage as opposed to something longer term.
Car sharing will best suited to those who:
- Require short term access to a car for a few hours or days
- Live within close proximity to a car sharing service
- Drive less than 150km a day
- Are committed to driving less and using other modes of transportation
While a car subscription is a better fit for those who:
- Require long term access or are looking for an alternative to owning a vehicle outright
- Want to change cars as and when they need
- Do not want an ongoing obligation
- Want the ability to cancel at any time
- Want to trial a specific car model before buying outright
- Don’t want to take on the running costs associated in owning a vehicle