car sharing

The pros and cons of car sharing in Germany

For many people, car is the largest item in their household budget, alongside the cost of their apartment. It costs 400 to 500 euros a month, and then it’s not even about an expensive sled.

In view of rising petrol costs, more and more people are asking themselves if they can’t do without their own car. Car sharing is the right keyword here. Otherwise, it stands around unused for more than 20 hours a day. 20,000 euros or more sitting around unused.

Questions for life with or without a car

But does it really work, life without your own car? The answer is yes! But of course, it depends on your needs. It can be practical and cheap, but maybe also unrealistic at the moment.

Actually, the question of the practicality of owning a car can be answered in three simple categories:

  • How often do I need a car?
  • What do I need the car for?
  • where do I live?

And then the bonus question: What emotional value does my car have?

There are calculations, for example from the ADAC, from Finanztip and from car-sharing companies, which show that car sharing is probably cheaper for you than your own car if you drive significantly less than 10,000 kilometers a year.

Is it worth having your own car? Calculate the fixed costs:

  • You have to buy your own car and it depreciates in value every month.
  • You have to park it, which is often still cheap in Germany. In Berlin-Mitte, a resident’s parking permit costs 20.40 euros a year, in Leipzig 30.70 euros and in Stockholm over 800 euros a year. Permanent parking spaces are of course significantly more expensive.
  • You have to insure your own car, which can cost more. A few hundred euros a year are due in any case. You can find cheap insurance with Finanztip.
  • You have to have your own car repaired and serviced.
  • Your car has to have an MOT at least every two years.

Regardless of whether you drive a few or many kilometers, these costs are incurred. And if you rent a car, whether from a car rental company or a car-sharing company, you don’t have to pay them.

Operating costs vary depending on mileage

Of course, operating costs still apply. With your own car, the cost of petrol and oil, fluids for windshield wipers or radiators, new tires every few years. In the case of a borrowed car, the costs per kilometer in which these operating costs are hidden. After years with very moderate prices, petrol prices have risen very significantly in 2021.

If you drive fewer kilometers, the fixed costs play a greater role. Owning the car is actually expensive fun. In fact, the average number of kilometers driven per car in Germany has been falling for years, while car prices are rising. Fixed costs are therefore becoming increasingly important.

However, you can still offset the availability of the car. Your car is almost always at your disposal, if you need it often, that’s an important factor, almost no matter how many kilometers you drive. But as a precaution, check how often you really need the car. Can you go by bike, on foot or by bus? How fast would a taxi be there and what would these alternatives actually cost compared to driving your own car? Not to mention the question of environmental pollution and the fact that their homes are clogged with tin boxes.

One advantage is of course the freer use of your car. If it’s yours, you can dent the curb and it’s no big deal. You can leave your shopping in the car over the weekend and the two-child seats too. In the car, you are safer on the road. In large cities, cyclists and pedestrians are often killed in traffic, and car occupants much less often.

Rental cars or car-sharing: The right car for every purpose

But if you want to explore Saxony’s avenues with your new girlfriend or boyfriend in a sleek convertible at the weekend and transport your grandmother’s old desk to Salzwedel next weekend, your own car is probably not enough for you, you would need two cars. If you intend to use your car for many different purposes, it may well be that a single-car of your own is not a good solution for your usage behavior.

In both cases, you only need the car for a few trips and you need a number of very different cars, rental cars or car-sharing would be the right answer.

In big cities, you can often choose between several car-sharing companies and numerous car rental companies. In the county town or in the country, the selection is often much smaller, and renting is more expensive and difficult. In almost half of all cities with between 20 and 50,000 inhabitants, there is now a corresponding offer. The Carsharing Association counted 855 places with offers in 2021. All in all, there are too few cars and you can often only borrow and return them at the station, which is a significant extra expense.

Car sharing is worthwhile if you only have a few kilometers in the big city

If you only drive a few kilometers a year, often need different cars, and live in a large or university town where car-sharing is as standard as supermarkets, car sharing is a great offer.

Then there is the degree of additional comfort that such an offer offers. If you can use the cars of two car-sharing fleets, either picked up at the station or found in the city via app, you are lucky. Access to the Art carsharing fleet costs no more than a streaming subscription and saves 200 to 300 euros a month in installments for the purchase of the car.

But you cannot solve the emotional problem of the car in this way. If your car is still called Ente, Olli, Haxe or Tilly, car sharing will hardly be able to replace the emotional loss of your own car. But you have to be able to afford true love.

About the Author

Frank Reid

Frank Reid is CouponKirin Contributing Writer. He covers a wide range of topics, including financial planning, car reviews, travel, entertainment, and lifestyle. He has an extensive journalistic background, where he's written and reported for several newspapers and magazines. Frank lives in New York, and is a native of Texas.