Despite findings and forecasts that the Millennial generation (people born between 1980 and the early 2000s) isn’t interested in owning cars, opting instead for car sharing services such as Getaround and Zipcar, car sales are up.
While Zipcar rents out a centrally owned fleet of vehicles, companies like Getaround rely on people renting out their cars to complete strangers. Research shows that 1 shared vehicle used regularly over the course of a week eliminates the need for as many as 15 privately owned cars.
When car sharing entered the scene, online writers were forecasting huge dips in new car sales and proportional economic downturns. Figures from 2014 show that around 1.3 million people in the U.S. belong to some kind of car sharing program, up 34% from 2013. Understandably, the bulk of people who belong to car share programs are in large metropolitan areas, where it’s possible to get around without a car, it’s just not always convenient.
It seems that the original assumption about Millennials is incorrect. In 2014, Millennials purchased about 27% of the new cars sold in the U.S., an increase of nearly 10% since 2010.
Millennials aren’t the only ones taking advantage of car sharing services, though. Around 15% of all Zipcar subscribers are over the age of 50, suggesting that older populations may be moving to or staying in urban areas during late working life and retirement.
Car sharing services are trying to persuade vehicle makers to embrace the 1-to-many concept of car ownership, but as long as new car sales stay strong, it seems unlikely that they’ll make any significant changes in the near future.