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Car sharing means fewer car sales, according to study

Enterprise car-sharing ad

A new study says car sharing has already cost U.S. auto dealers a lot of car sales over the past few years –and the trend will accelerate in the future.

John Hoffecker of AlixPartners says car-sharing services like ZipCar reduced car purchases by 500,000  between 2006 and 2013.

The AlixPartners study focused on 10 metro areas where car-sharing services are well established.

Hoffecker says nearly half of people who used a car-sharing service either ended up never buying a car, or selling one they had, after car sharing proved both cheaper and more convenient than car ownership.

"Parking can be a challenge," says Hoffecker of car ownership in a large city.  "And then just the cost – not even just the vehicle cost – the parking cost."

Hoffecker thinks car sales will be depressed by another million by the year 2020.  

And he says once automated cars become a reality, the pace of car sharing replacing car owning will pick up.

Hoffecker says car-sharing companies will probably be early adopters of self-driving cars.  That could make it easier for customers to get a self-driving car to pick them up than to call a taxi.

"That would allow much more easy access for individuals to get the car," he says, "and a much simpler process to send it back."