In recent decades buying your first car has been as much of a basic rite of passage as your first kiss and first job.
But experts believe that could be about to change.
Young people are now driving less (whereas once 48% of 17-20 year olds had a licence that figure has fallen in recent years to 29%) and those who are still pursuing a licence may well no longer want the shackles of owning and running a car. Or perhaps they just can’t afford the luxury.
Insurance premiums for young drivers now come in at a massive amount – an average of £3,182 per year for a Vauxhall Corsa, the most popular car with 17-24 year olds, according to one insurance comparison site.
Young people are looking for alternatives to ownership and, as the generation that is used to pick-up and put-down technologues like Netflix, they don’t see why their transport solutions can’t be the same.
So what are the alternatives to car ownership? A new report has explored the pros and cons.
Alternatives to outright ownership include:
1. Mobility as a Service (MaaS) apps
Now trialled in a number of parts of the UK, MaaS apps allow users to pinpoint the two destinations they wish to travel between and book and pay for the combination of transport they prefer to use to get there, all in one click.
That might mean a short bus journey followed by the loan of a city hire bike, for example, or a train and taxi.
It makes planning and completing a journey with public transport more seamless and simple.
MaaS journeys may also make use of other types of emerging transport options that allow short-term, limited access to a car, such as car subscription, car clubs and car sharing schemes (explained below).
2. Car clubs
Transport for London is trying to recruit 1 million people to car clubs by 2025 and there are schemes popping up across the UK.
The premise is that members can access locally parked cars and pay by the minute, hour or day, with all costs of fuel, insurance and maintenance included.
These may become a clever solution to limited parking spaces by reducing the total number of vehicles in any given area. They also offer the benefit of allowing members to access the most appropriate vehicle for the specific journey they want to complete.
Members gain access to vehicles using apps and code technology either in back-to-base or one-way trip models.
3. Car subscription schemes
An extension / alternative to car club schemes are car subscriptions where users have the same low commitment ease of access to a car, with all-costs-included access, but make a regular payment for it.
4. Car sharing schemes
As well as car pooling schemes, where people seek out others making the same journey and travel together, car sharing schemes also now include an owner offering their vehicle for short term loan when they aren’t using it.
There are apps and websites available now to connect people to both types of scheme.
Cars are parked up 96% of the time and car sharing schemes provide ways to earn money out of them during those periods.
5. Alternative car financing options
Car loans and finance are nothing new but the range of borrowing options available is ever broadening.
For example, Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) allows someone to ‘rent’ a car via regular instalments and then either buy the car with a final large lump sum or use the resale value to move on to a new PCP agreement on a different vehicle. This has been common over the last decade or more – and shows we’ve already evolved toward a post-ownership landscape.
Will owning a car be a thing of the past?
The variety of alternatives to car ownership are likely to continue to grow, but whether they will have the same impact as streaming services have had on the now retro notion of CD and DVD collections will only emerge in time.
Dr Tim Schwanen, director of the Transport Studies Unit at the University of Oxford, has his doubts.
He said: “Using a different car each time you go for a drive is all very well if you have nothing to carry around. If, for your job, you need to keep things in your car or if you have children, your priorities may be different. Don’t forget, cars can offer convenient storage.
“Ultimately, people have far more complex relationships with their cars than they appreciate.”