I have the Mother of All Inventions to offer -- free of charge -- to any automobile manufacturer willing to listen to my rant: What about making a car with a detachable derriere? I'm thinking maybe a giant zipper, right behind the driver's seat.
Why tote along an empty backseat and trunk on trips when you don't need it? Save gas, money and emissions by unzipping the butt end and leaving it parked at home while you drive the front half. And if you have a big-car ego, you'd still have bragging rights: "You should see my backend. I don't use it much, but it's huge!"
Zipcar has a wide range of car models to choose from, including the sporty Mini.
Alas, until the automotive industry jumps on my idea for the rump-less roadster, there's another way to own only part of a car: Car sharing.
Car share members pay a nominal annual fee for 24/7 access to a fleet of cars and light trucks parked in lots scattered across a city. Make a reservation by phone or online (last-minute is fine) and use an electronic keycard to access the assigned car.
You're typically charged an hourly fee and a per-mile rate, but gas, insurance, maintenance, parking, registration and taxes -- and all the hassles of car ownership -- are the company's responsibility.
If you're an urbanite or live near a college campus, car sharing could save you some serious jack and help save the environment too.
Born in Europe in the 1980's, car sharing is now an option in many American cities and on more than 70 U.S. campuses. Zipcar, the leading national chain, and a growing crop of localized car sharing companies claim that every car in their fleets replaces about fifteen privately owned cars that would otherwise be on the streets, thereby reducing pollution and congestion. And members generally spend only about $600 per year on car sharing, as opposed to an average of nearly $9,000 annually to own a car, per AAA. There's even a calculator at www.Zipcar.com that estimates your savings by individual city.
OK, so until we have a zippered car, a Zipcar may be the way to go.
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