Trend Towards Urban Car Rental Displacing Car Ownership

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Urban drivers are growing more likely to rent a vehicle when it's needed, instead of permanent car ownership, suggests a recent investigation commissioned by

By 2008, car ownership was already significantly lower in London than it was across the rest of the UK, with 40% of London households owning no car at all

A litany of financial and environmental factors - parking permits, insurance, congestion and congestion charges, air pollution, personal financial uncertainty, and simple peace of mind regarding the vehicle's security - make owning a car in the city much less attractive than it used to be, says

With car ownership in many of Britain's major cities already significantly lower than rural areas - as of 2008 there were 15% more car-free households in London, for example, than the rest of the country - more urban drivers are considering abandoning car ownership altogether. Car rental schemes enable these drivers to rent an appropriate vehicle for special occasions, like out-of-town excursions, occasional business trips or moving house, instead of shouldering the financial and environmental costs of outright ownership.

2012 Department for Transport figures show registration of new vehicles across Great Britain trending gradually downward since 2002, with growth in overall nationwide car ownership slowly flattening out at around 28.5 thousand cars. By 2008, car ownership was already much lower in London than the rest of Great Britain, with 40% of London households not owning a car at all - a figure that remained constant since the mid 1980s - compared to less than 25% of households across the rest of the country.

A survey taken in Manchester in 2001 showed 48% of inner-city households owning no car, compared to 27%, on average, throughout England. Recent RAC-commissioned research undertaken by Oxford University, UCL and Imperial College London reflected this, finding that car ownership was significantly higher in rural areas compared to urban centres, with underfunded public transport in the countryside blamed for the higher reliance on cars.

In cities, efficient public transport and grocery delivery services, along with "mini" versions of popular grocery chains springing up on most city high streets, make living without a car unproblematic for many city-dwellers.

Carhiremarket's investigation also suggested that cars are less powerful - or achievable - status symbols than they used to be, with kudos transferring to more affordable devices like smartphones, tablets and other personal technology. Recent unemployment rates and banks' increasing reluctance to fund large purchases may also be contributing factors.

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