As the cost of car ownership increases, a new Zipcar survey reveals insights across generations on the future of transportation
BOSTON, June 21, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — As monthly car payments hike towards record numbers, interest rates hit their highest level in nearly fifteen years, and the financial burdens of gas, insurance, parking, and maintenance take their toll on car owners, Americans are wondering if car ownership is necessary, according to a new survey released by Zipcar, the world’s leading car-sharing network, and conducted by Wakefield Research.
Check traditional car ownership in the rearview mirror with data revealing that more than a third of U.S. adults (35%) would be at least somewhat likely to give up owning a personal vehicle by the end of the decade, and nearly 1 in 5 (18%) are very likely or extremely likely to do so. These potentially carless drivers are not alone: almost half of all adults (44%) already know a peer getting by just fine without owning a car.
“The traditional American idea of owning a car – receiving the gift of new keys at sixteen, as a graduation surprise, or to drive around a city – is dead,” said Angelo Adams, Head of Zipcar. “Car owners are feeling the stress of car ownership and are increasingly adopting affordable transportation options easily accessible at their fingertips. Why waste time and money on a car that sits unused and parked most of the time?”
From Gen Z to Boomers, Car Dependency Soars, Yet Car Ownership Dies
While each generation envisions decreasing car ownership in the future, having access to a vehicle is still critical: nearly all Americans (95%) depend on a car at least sometimes, including more than 4 in 5 (84%) who depend on one often or all the time. With moving day on the horizon, nearly as many college students (93%) say the same.
And yet, a staggering number of Gen Z (45%) and Millennials (51%) are more eager to go car-free than Gen X (28%) and Boomers (21%). Almost half of college students (45%) say they would be at least somewhat likely to go without a vehicle by 2030, and nearly 3 in 5 (59%) already know someone in a similar situation who travels fine without owning a car.
Owning the drive without owning the car, Zipcar members live increasingly car-free: more than 1 in 4 ditch their car after joining Zipcar; 47% postpone buying or leasing a vehicle; and 82% of Zipcar members live car-free. And, if Zipcar left, nearly half of its members (42%) would buy a personal car. More than 1 in 3 Zipcar members said the increased fuel and vehicle ownership costs in 2022 was a factor in reducing the number of private vehicles in their households.
Boston Family Lives Car-Free for Nearly Two Decades
“Our environmentally conscious kids urged me to get rid of our family car in 2007, but I had been driving for more than 30 years, making me nervous not to own my car. Fast-forward sixteen years later, and my family loves our car-free life,” said Janie Katz Christy, Zipcar member and Director of The Green Streets Initiative. “We have saved tens of thousands of dollars from not owning a car and all the extra costs that come with it: feeding it gas, washing it, repairing it, parking it – and moving it for street cleaning. With those savings, our family has been able to enjoy gorgeous train rides, ferries, bike rides, and occasional car drives. It has also allowed me the opportunity to run a non-profit organization.”
When Rubber Hits the Road, Should Private Vehicles be Banned from City Streets?
With the increasing adoption of shared, on-demand transportation services like car-sharing, ride hailing, bikes and scooters coupled with access to public transportation, there are plenty of ways to travel without needing to own a vehicle. Almost a third of adults (31%) believe owning a car isn’t necessary to get where they want to go. In their ideal living situation, 16% would rather have sustainable, on-demand travel options than a personal car, including 29% of Gen Z and 20% of Millennials.
Gen Z New Yorker Lives Car-Free, Freeing Up Valuable City Space
“I don’t own a car because I take public transportation everywhere, and parking is very hard to find in my neighborhood. When I need to access a car, it’s to help me get to places where I can’t take public transportation or to help me run errands,” said Tyler Gaston, Harlem resident and native New Yorker. “Imagine a New York with fewer cars? Less traffic?”
Going one step further, many believe cities should also limit personal vehicles: more than a third say cities should ban private cars in some areas. Gen Z (49%) and Millennials (45%) are more likely to say cities should ban private cars in some areas than Gen X (31%) and Boomers (27%). In comparison, some (6%) want to ban private cars from cities altogether, decreasing congestion, carbon emissions, and parking competition and enabling more enjoyable city living.
An Affordable, Accessible Transportation Solution for All Generations?
For over twenty years, Zipcar has been driven by a mission to enable simple and responsible urban living by reducing personally-owned vehicles. Recently, to advance this mission, Zipcar has made significant enhancements to the member experience including reinventing its platform for a better user experience, enabling access to Zipcars via Bluetooth, and infleeting eco-friendly vehicles including hybrids and electric vehicles, to name a few. Critical to the success of the sharing community are its community rules: fill up (with the free gas or EV charging card), keep the vehicle clean and return on time. To support its shared community, Zipcar recently eliminated 10,000 members who did not abide by the community rules, affecting other members’ reservations.
Zipcar provides on-demand access to vehicles by the hour, day, or week in convenient urban, campus, and business locations with gas, insurance options, maintenance, and parking included, making it a more cost-effective and sustainable option than personal car ownership. Equitable access to transportation and environmental sustainability is a crucial benefit of the car-free and car-lite lifestyle Zipcar enables, especially with the increasing adoption of electric vehicles.
Zipcar is the world’s leading car-sharing network, driven by a mission to enable simple and responsible urban living. With its wide variety of self-service vehicles available by the hour, day or week, Zipcar operates in urban areas and university campuses in hundreds of cities, towns, and universities. Zipcar is a subsidiary of Avis Budget Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: CAR), a leading global provider of transportation solutions. More information is available at www.zipcar.com.
Wakefield Survey Methodology
The Zipcar Survey was conducted by Wakefield Research among 1,000 nationally representative US adults ages 18+, plus an oversample to increase the total number of college students to 500, college students defined as currently enrolled, between May 3rd and May 8th, 2023, using an email invitation and an online survey. Data has been weighted.
 Zipcar-specific data was collected as part of Zipcar’s 2022 North American Transportation Survey, conducted in December 2022 with a sample size of approximately 6,000 respondents across North America.