The world got a lot smaller when Henry Ford introduced the Model T in 1908. It brought freedom and independence to people who were long bound to their homes by circumstance. Rural folks were able to travel beyond the next town, and they could pursue new opportunities in work, travel, and education. City dwellers, able to go beyond their trolley car's limits, found it possible to relocate, vacation, and work where they want.
Distances between towns got shorter and, before you knew it, this world was paved coast to coast and border to border. Americans found themselves with a freedom of mobility they never had before. With this new freedom came a cost in terms of air pollution, aging infrastructure, and fuel dependency.
Today, some people are reconsidering the pros and cons of owning a car. Many Millennials looking to save money, for example, have become urban dwellers who have developed alternatives to car ownership. Millennials are holding on to their automobiles and using alternatives such as Zipcar peer-to-peer car sharing service. As FastCompany says, “The CMC’s [College Millennial Consumer's] popularity and relationships are defined by their online status, not their ‘cool ride’ and they make all of their connections online.”
What are the Pros of Owning a Car?
- Exploring: A car is still the best way to get around. It will take you pretty much where you please without depending on public transportation. It will take you to work, school, and shopping and just about anywhere you wish to go.
We often take the freedom a car provides for granted. Enjoy the outdoors? A car will get you to places you can hunt, fish, or ski. It will take you to the beach, spa, or resort of your choice. Sometime it just feels right climbing in your car and getting away!
- Ownership: Owning your own car proves your financial maturity. If you financed your car with a loan, you have established a credit record important to your future in securing other loans or mortgage.
By keeping up with your loan payments, you have shown responsibility and discipline. And, you will find in time that discipline comes in handy when maintaining the car and paying for fuel and insurance.I
Today's modern cars allow you to choose the music you prefer, adjust the temperature until it suits you, and make and receive phone calls in private.
- Prestige: There’s personal satisfaction in showing the discipline, but there is prestige in having a quality ride like, say a Peugeot 308, a stylish hatchback with a legendary brand name.
You can’t ride prestige or cool without some investment, so the look and engineering can build your reputation, too. An electric car or hybrid, for example, might project your environmental consciousness.
- Work: Most people use their cars to commute to and from work. But, an increasing number use their cars for their jobs, travelling to make sales or service clients. Most new vehicles include high-tech features that allow people to conduct their business from the car.
Still, others have made offices of their vehicles, using the vehicle’s advanced access to make calls, file reports, access the internet, prepare documents, and transmit data.
What are the Cons of Owning a Car?
- Cost: Peugeot or not, a car depreciates in value when it leaves the dealership. A car will lose 15 to 25 percent in value each year for its five years on the road.
While your car is depreciating in value, you must still pay your insurance and monthly loan payment on the vehicle you purchased with a down payment. Before you know it, you are driving a used car worth less than half of what you paid for it.
- Cashflow: A car is one of the largest purchases most people ever make other than buying a home. The money you spend on a car is money you cannot save or invest.
- Maintenance: Your car will have annual expenses, including insurance, registration, and inspection fees. But, these are not the only out-of-pocket expenses.
In addition to paying for fuel, there will also be costs for repairs, replacement parts, tires, car washes, and parking costs (which can be exorbitant in some cities).
- Risks: Automobiles are vulnerable to accidents, including physical damage as well as personal injury. When you consider the mileage you put on a car in commuting and other travel, your insurance company can estimate the likelihood of an accident with other cars or heavier trucks.
- Environment: Keeping most cars on the road adds to environmental concerns. Oil and diesel are carbon fuels which deplete supplies and add carbon emissions to the atmosphere.
Commuting only adds to traffic in traffic-strangled regions, increasing costs of policing as well as the need for highway construction and maintenance.
- Garaging: You must garage your car to protect your vehicle from weather, vandalism, and theft. Most new homes are built with garages for one or two cars.
But, apartment and condo dwellers don’t enjoy the benefit. In cities like New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, the price for sheltered parking spaces is prohibitive.
Freedom has upsides and down
Cars continue to offer comfortable and convenient independence for most owners. Asking what car ownership will look like in the future, Forbes says, “basically cars aren’t just A-B transportation for most people. They are extended backpacks, lifestyle aspirations, decompression zones, status signifiers, vacation vehicles, and fashion accessories. None of those values that people place on cars is actually rational, but they are incredibly strong.”
People now have options to car ownership in leasing, ride-sharing, and Uber-like services. But, it’s not likely they will give up their freedom anytime soon.