Is Uber making car ownership obsolete?

A Texas man gave up his car and relied solely on Uber and Lyft for 30 days to see if it would save money. Could the trend catch on?

Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters/File Photo
A file illustration picture shows the logo of car-sharing service app Uber on a smartphone next to the picture of an official German taxi sign in Frankfurt, September 15, 2014. A German court is set to rule March 18, 2015, whether Uber's novel taxi-hailing service violates driver licensing rules, a decision that could lead to a nationwide ban on the service. The case in a Frankfurt court brought by German taxi operator group Taxi Deutschland against Uber is one of more than a dozen lawsuits filed across Europe in recent months by taxi industry associations against the San Francisco-based company. Taxi drivers around the world consider Uber unfairly bypasses local licensing and safety regulations by using the internet to put drivers in touch with passengers. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach/Files

Many a frustrated car owner has fantasized about a life without their financially draining vehicle. But unless you live and work in a city with a fairly extensive public transportation system, not having a car isn’t really an option for many Americans. However, in the era of Uber, Lyft, and the sharing economy, it isn’t such an impossibility any more.

Austin, Texas native Josh Waldrun, who works for The Zebra, a company that compares car insurance rates, decided to give up his car for one month and rely solely on Uber and Lyft for all transportation needs to see if it would be more cost effective.

"I just threw out the idea, like 'What if I gave up my car for a month?' It's really easy when you are leaving the bar at night to get home because there are drivers everywhere, but on the contrary it was super easy to get one at 9 in the morning," Waldrun told ABC News.

Waldrun found that it typically only took about 4 minutes from the time he ordered the car to its arrival, even when he was trying to get to work during rush hour. He also enjoyed getting to meet people from all walks of life in his community.

Over the course of the experiment, he saved $110 on gas and insurance, not much in and of itself. But if one could forgo the initial car purchase as well, it could be worth it. However, Waldrun is choosing to keep his car.

"Nothing replaces having a car and just driving when you need to get out," Waldrun said. "Happy to have it back, but I'm a huge fan of Uber and Lyft and have nothing negative to say about them. It was a great experience."

Waldrun is far from the only one to have forgone car ownership. Chelsea Rustrum’s experiment went beyond just Uber. She also tried out Getaround, Zipcar, Sidecar and Zimride in a quest to get rid of her car.

However, people get attached to their cars and the convenience and freedom they offer, which may prevent the Uber-only lifestyle from catching on.

Although car advertisements have recently focused on affordability, the main priority for many Uber users, the auto industry does not seem to be threatened by the ride-sharing trend.

On the contrary, Cox Automotive, which owns AutoTrader, Kelly Blue Book and Manheim Auctions, recently invested $24 million in Getaround, another San Francisco-based ride-sharing company. The investment was made in an effort “to truly change the way people own cars by expanding access to peer-to-peer car-sharing and lower barriers to participation,” according to a joint statement from Getaround and lead investor Cox Automotive.

If you already have a car, it is probably not worth the inconvenience of having to wait for rides. However, if you don’t have a car, it may be worth exploring other options before spending thousands of dollars on a new vehicle. 

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