As I type this post, I’m staring out of my office window at my car. It’s sitting there in its parking spot, sad and alone, where it will spend all of the rest of the day and night, before being summoned to do a quick 25 minute daycare run tomorrow morning. It will then sit in that same parking spot for another 23 hours and 35 minutes until the next time it has to go across town to drop Jack at daycare.
Some days I use the car more than that, but more often than not, the car will sit idly by all those hours—roughly 98% of the day. On a busy week, let’s say I drive the car for 1 hour each day — that’s still leaving it idle 95% of the time. Given how much it costs to buy, insure, and fuel this thing, that’s an absurdly low use-rate.
Let’s look at the costs:
- I bought the car used with 100,000km for $8,000, including taxes and licensing.
- Since this is our second car, insurance costs an additional $200 on top of the $160 it used to cost us when we had just one car
- I only drive this car for about 25-35 minutes a day during the week, so I pay about $50 every two weeks for gas
For those without a calculator on hand, that’s $8,000 up front, and a guaranteed $300 per month. Because it has 100,000km on it, I pay for maintenance regularly, as well as for snow tires, for oil changes, and for that weird burning smell I discovered last month (rear brake callipers ( “just” $350 because my mechanic works for cash )). Forgetting the $8,000 up front cost, the average cost of owning this car since I bought it is $405.
Just read that last sentence again. I pay $405 a month—forgetting the $8,000 hole in my bank account—for something that I use just 2% of the time. What a colossal waste.
There has to be a better way
Google’s self-driving car, and Apple’s yet-to-be-announced-whatever-it-is really excite me. The idea that one day, we’ll be able to just call a car the way we now call a cab and have it delivered to our door is really, really exciting. But there has to be something we can do in the meantime.
I need my car for that 23-35 minutes per day at roughly the same time to bring Jack to daycare. Outside of that, I’m completely flexible about when I’ll need it. Some days the car won’t move at all, while other days I might run out at to the bank, or meet some for lunch. All of these “extra” trips in the car are completely predictable and flexible. If I don’t have the car today, I just won’t go out. I can wait until my wife gets home with the other car if something needs to be picked up. See? Completely flexible. There simply has to be a better way to utilize this extremely expensive asset.
Here’s the pro/con consideration list:
- Shared cost for an expensive asset
- Lower insurance rates(?)
- Shared maintenance costs (somehow?)
- Car availabilty: my car is available for someone else to use almost all day on weekdays and literally all day on Saturdays and Sundays.
- More expensive insurance?
- How would you get to your car if it weren’t at home?
- How would someone get to your home to pickup the car?
- How would maintenance costs work? Fuel?
- How would ownership work?
It seems like the number of participants for critical mass here is low. From what I’m thinking, you need:
- 3-4 participants with cars, maybe 15-20ish participants total (so, 3-4 cars for 15-20 people)
- A shuttle for getting people to cars
- Shared insurance rates (somehow!)
- Shared maintenance (somehow!)
- Shared up front vehicle cost (somehow!)
Ugg. So many questions. When I started this post I was convinced it wasn’t that difficult. Maybe I was wrong =) In any case, there simply has to be a better way to handle vehicle ownership — especially second vehicles — than we currently do. Utilizing an $8,000 + $400/mo asset at just 2-5% is about as absurd as it gets.
Come on, future!