For some Americans, ride-sharing more affordable than car ownership

Owning and operating a new vehicle in 2017 cost a driver an average of $8,469 per year, or $706 per month, according to a study from AAA. Thanks in part to the sharing economy, there has been a rise of alternatives to car ownership, including ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft as well as short-term car rental services like Zipcar and car2go. In some cases, these options could be more affordable than owning a car.

In Denver, a city with an average cost of living expenses, according to Payscale, an Uber rider who took 20 round trips per month would be riding 472.73 miles per month or 5,667 per year, according to Uber rates from,  for the same cost as car ownership. Lyft riders could travel 541 miles per month or 6,496 per year for the same cost as car ownership.

AAA stats indicate that seniors in the U.S.  drive on average 5,840 miles per year -- making ride-sharing breakeven to cheaper. Teenager drivers average 7,551 annually, making ride-sharing almost a more affordable option.

Beyond ride-sharing, there are more alternatives for those who want to forgo car ownership. Zipcar and car2go allow drivers to rent cars for hours or days. In Denver, Zipcar advertises standard hourly rates from $9.63 per hour, and a $7 per month charge after the first 30 days; car2go charges $15 to $19 per hour and will also charge a day rate for rentals up to three days in a row.

The average American drives 10,900 miles per year, according to AAA, making ride- or car-sharing likely a more expensive alternative. Of course, there are many variables to consider beyond the miles driven per day in determining the most cost-effective option. For example, those who live in cities tend to pay more for parking, luxury car payments can make car ownership much more expensive while some motor vehicle accidents can skyrocket insurance costs.

According to a study by Inrix, the average cost to own a car in Manhattan was $18,926 per year in 2017, with parking fees the main reason for the high expense. Per month, that equates to a monthly cost of $1,577.17. Assuming even car2go’s most expensive hourly rate – the breakeven point of car ownership vs. short-term rental would be driving 83 hours a month, or 996 hours a year – well above the average 335 hous per year Americans spend behind the wheel.