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How to Have a Car without Owning It

Why do we buy cars?
Why do people buy cars? I don't think anyone buys them just for the sake of owning a one-ton mass of iron, aluminum and plastic. We buy them for other reasons, such as to go out with our family or go shopping, don't we?

We buy cars because we want to have the freedom to travel conveniently whenever we like. In other words, we want the service provided by the car, not the product itself. It's important to understand the difference between the service of a product versus the product itself.

Another example is a TV. We don't want a TV just to have a big, black box sitting in our living room! We buy a TV because we want to enjoy TV programs and to find out about topics we can talk about with our friends. If you didn't have a TV, would you be happy just having a clear screen on the wall? Wouldn't it be nice that even if we didn't watch TV programs, we could still have a good time with our friends?

Let's go back to talking about cars. Most people buy and use a car as a means of transportation from here to there. Wouldn't it be great if there were other ways to travel easily without owning a car?

In recent years, the concept of "car sharing" has become popular in Europe and the United States. Car sharing is a system where a group of people shares the use of a few cars, rather than each person owning one. Think about it--although most of the families in Japan today have at least one car of their own, a lot of them don't actually use it everyday.

Some cars spend most of their time sitting in garages. On average, we drive our own cars as little as one hour a day. That's a waste of money, isn't it? To save costs, some people came up with the idea of "car sharing." Instead of owning our own car, which costs money everyday, we can share cars and only pay money when we use them. This is the car sharing system.

In Switzerland, a leader in car sharing, almost 40,000 people have joined a car share system, and borrow and return cars at 800 places across the country. In this system, people who drive less than 10,000 kilometers a year can reduce their driving costs. This is because they only have to pay for the basic fees and charges based on the actual travel distance. Meanwhile, when people own their own cars, they need to pay taxes, car inspection fees, parking fees, repair costs and so on. Since this system reduces household expenses, more and more people are starting to do car sharing.

Recently in Japan, efforts to promote car sharing have been seen throughout the country. After all, the main point is not having a car but being able to use a car when we want to, isn't it?

Car sharing is the beginning of a new idea in transportation in which we can use a service we need, without buying a product--a car.

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