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|So I was having dinner and drinks with a good blog buddy (and real life friend, *waves* at Wendy happily), and we were chatting about those things that women like to chat about . . . guys, house hunting, guys, politics, guys, yummy hand lotions, guys, and well, you get the picture.
During a lull between “guy themes,” we started talking about those shared cars that seem to be all the rage in Europe. I’m not sure that either of us really knows this for a fact, it’s one of those things you sort of imagine goes on over there (like topless sunbathing and unshaved armpits). But after a few margaritas, we weren’t too bothered by little details like whether what we were saying had any truth to it or not; no, we just went with the assumptions the tequila was fueling, and before long, we had a whole theory about why such shared cars have yet to really catch on here in the States (by now, I had convinced myself that no one in Europe even owned a car, they all just used the same one. Or maybe two.).
My contributions to the theory went something like (slurp up some margarita, er, sip daintily and in fine ladylike manner from margarita glass): as Americans we seem to be more focused on the individual, on that capitalist/consumerist I have to own it mentality. Americans like to own things. And stuff. And although the Cold War has been over for a while now, we also seem to think that “sharing” and ideas of “communal/community property” smack of pinko commie something or other that we don’t like much on this side of the Atlantic. Now philosophically speaking, community property makes sense and should work because then everyone can benefit from the same item, but then, all sorts of things make sense in theory but don’t turn out too well in practice, and we all know that neither communism nor socialism have ever really worked out that well in practice (pesky human flaws seem to get in the way of that).
But I ramble. These shared cars aren’t really community property; they belong to a company who then rents them for x number of hours or days. When you’re done with the car you’ve rented, you park it somewhere and I guess plug it in (they’re electric for the most part, it seems, though some are hybrids), so it will be fully charged for the next renter.
Apparently, however, companies like Zip Cars (if there are others, I’m not sure, didn’t bother to look too far into it) are doing far better than I had imagined. The Zip Car site says that they operate in 50+ cities and are on a 100+ college campuses. Who’d have thought? It’s a really good idea, I think, and all enviro-friendly and seems to be a good option during these tough economic times when people can’t keep up car payments (though anyone who can afford to buy a car now should do so if so inclined, I guess, as prices are pretty low).
Honestly, the college campus market seems like a great one to tap into. A lot of college kids can’t afford cars or don’t really need them except for day trips or beer runs. I’m not sure how insurance works on these Zip Cars (yeah, yeah, I could read the site, but I’m not that curious), but I know that younger drivers tend to be charged more (discrimination!) for insurance, so that’s another plus for the college student Zip Car driver (I imagine that the Zip Car rental fee includes insurance for the day or hour or whatever). But I’m not sure that it appeals to me, personally. Too many things could go wrong, and I could be blamed for someone else’s cigarette burned seat or blown speaker from too loud music. Or someone could get sick or leave other bodily fluids splattered around that I might touch (shudder). Or any number of equally disastrous scenarios could happen. Besides, I like owning my own car. It’s a thing. And I do like things. And stuff. I like stuff, too.
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