Single Car Families on the Rise?

Photo © New York Times

It looks like we might be part of a growing trend. According to a recent story in the New York Times, there appears to be an increasing number of families that are limiting themselves to a single car. The article states that these new one-car families are motivated by high gas prices, costs associated with owning a second car, and concern for the environment.

From the article:

But there are signs of change. Brian Gluckman, a spokesman for, a leading automotive Web site, said more buyers were moving to one car.

Until the last three months, Mr. Gluckman said, that car tended to be a midsize S.U.V. or crossovers. He said’s more recent data showed buyers shifting toward smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles.

Robert Sinclair Jr., a spokesman for the New York regional chapter of AAA, agrees that “we are witnessing a major sea change in both the types and number of vehicles on the road.”

The couples interviewed in the article discuss some of the complications associated with running a household, ferrying kids, and getting to-and-from work while sharing one car. Besides ride-sharing, some are using transit as well as walking and cycling to make it all work.

“We bike, car-pool, walk or take a cab if we don’t have access to the car,” Ms. Willis said. In a pinch, she relies on her brother who lives nearby, and they rent a car a couple of times a year.

We’re using a similar mix of modes including cycling, walking, transit, and driving. We’re also more carefully organizing our schedules to avoid “double-booking” the car for times when it’s required.

Read the full article

4 Responses to “Single Car Families on the Rise?”

  • Perry says:

    Interesting. As you know, cars are very expensive to own and operate. Jo Ellen and I have been together for over 20 years and we’ve always owned one car at a time. We average 8300 driving miles per year. Most of this to visit family which is anywhere from 50-120 miles away. We use our bikes and feet to reduce in-town car trips.

    Owning one car in suburbia (where 3 and 4 car households are common) has its price. Repairs are very inconvenient. I get some walking or biking in on repair days, and sometimes in weather I’d normally avoid. I like to think it has made me a better person for adjusting to different situations.

    The last time we bought a car was in 1991 and that Honda Accord is still going strong. That has saved us A LOT of money over the years. In addition to operating expenses, insurance, etc, in CT, your car is taxed like property based on the blue book value. Since our car has very little value according to the blue book, our tax bill for the car is bubkus.

    Car-free is not option in our current situation but if that ever changes, I’ll be happy to do without a car. I often try to imagine it but it ain’t happening any time soon.

  • andy souped up says:

    i just could’nt resist plugging (again!) a dream i had in 2005, where i was playing cards, and had 4 of a kind (all 4’s!) and then woke up, looking at the digital clock which said 4:44:45!!!
    the reason i brought this up is that this is the year you can go past a gas station and see the 3 grades of gas and their corresponding prices, which looks something like this:
    regular: 4.17
    decaf: 4.26
    premo: 4.33
    and, to top off the tank of this crazy tank, shakespeare turned 444 years old this year. what would shakespeare drive? his works have been a pillar in the modern 4 year university, accessible by any set of 4 wheels. but lots of shakespeare’s action would require 4 wheel drive to get to. and there’s usually a large supporting cast, so don’t forget 4 doors.

  • andy souped up says:

    i feel bad for being nasty. cars are a mobile roof over your head on a hot day. i’ve done a fair amount of hitch-biking, and that’s what i like-symbiotic relationships. like a mouse hitching a ride on the shoulder of a large beast.

  • Jim Reilly says:

    The fundamental market forces are working. Supply and demand are changing consumer behavior (albeit slower than I thought they would). I saw three SMART cars here in SE PA on Saturday alone. I have seen more motor scooters in the last month than I have seen in the last ten years! It’s amazing! Now watch for rapid advancement in electric storage technology. Lighter batteries with an extended charge lifecycle are coming. This will be the key to very usable electric cars for the masses. It’s good stuff.

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