A membership-stocked form of carsharing, like Club Sportiva and several others that have since sprung up around the country, such as Classic Car Club of Manhattan and Van Horssen Group in Scottsdale, Arizona, it is based on a concept of timesharing. And like vacation apartments in South Beach, or a cruise in a chartered yacht, nobody owns them, but everyone uses them.
Consider carsharing, a world-wide perception whose time has really arrived. But it didn't just spring up overnight. Put on your pop culture time travel hats as we take you back in time to the years of the Teddy Boy culture that first emerged in Britain in the early 1950s. Think of the fashions of The Who on the Ed Sullivan Show, and you'll get the idea. This movement spawned the Nozem, an early modern Dutch counterculture society that led to the creation of the Provo movement.
Founded by Robert Jasper Grootveld in Holland in 1965, despite being responsible for the whole hippy thing here in the U.S., the Provo gained world-wide prominence through non-violent protests and their development of "The White Plans," one of which was the White Bicycle Plan which placed a number of bicycles in the center of Amsterdam in the effort to alleviate traffic congestion (and to make a statement). It failed miserably, but it is important as one of the first community-based methods of sharing an alternative mode of transportation. After that, in the late-'60s, they ambitiously focused on a project called Witkar, which planned for a large number of electric-powered vehicles, a sophisticated reservation and return system, and a number of stations in and around the city. It lasted until the early 1980s but showed the potential for commuters to share ownership of a concept instead of an actual machine.
Dr. Susan Shaheen, an expert on the environmental impact and aspects of public transportation at California's Partners for Advanced Transit & Highways (PATH), explains, "The principle of carsharing is simple: Individuals gain the benefits of private cars without the costs and responsibilities of ownership, and instead of owning one or more vehicles, a household accesses a fleet of vehicles on an as-needed basis."
The real watershed in the development of the industry came in the 1990s with such larger and more structured projects as StattAuto in Germany, the precursor of Mobility Carshare in Switzerland, Greenwheels in the Netherlands, CommunAuto and AutoShare in Canada, Flexcar in Portland, Oregon, Zipcar in Boston, and CityCarClub in England and Scotland. As of this year, there are hundreds of such programs and organizations in operation around the world, each with varying success. Shaheen reports that "sharing a car reduces the need for four to ten privately owned cars in Europe and for six to 23 cars in North America. Studies and surveys suggest that 11 to 29 percent of carsharing participants sold a vehicle after joining a program, while 12 to 68 percent delayed or decided against buying a car."
The altruistic concept of traditional carsharing in the ideal philanthropic model of a perfect world is designed to allow the general community to save time, money, and the environment. It provides increased access to transportation for poorer citizens, it reduces congestion, frees up parking, improves air quality, and encourages greater use of public transportation. The office chief of California's Division of Mass Transportation, Gale Ogawa, states, "At the state level, carsharing can provide the missing links between transit, home, and places of employment, while providing transportation for short trips throughout the day." These are wonderful platforms on which to base a smooth shift from capitalism (the best to market first) to a society that distributes responsibility of products and commodities by the many for the good of the few. Shaheen adds, "A carsharing system, in effect, transforms fixed costs of vehicle ownership into variable costs, as carsharing is most effective and most attractive when seen as a transportation mode that fills the gap between transit and private cars, and that can be linked to other modes and transportation services."
However, the emotional leftovers for our society are what stereotypical Americans love to hate, concepts that are all melded into one word: sharing. Americans hate to share, but don't worry. Club Sportiva isn't about any of those things. If owning one expensive car in your garage is like a marriage built on the foundations of love, trust, and loyalty to that one car for the rest of your life, then Club Sportiva is a hot sexy mistress you see on the weekends; scratch that-it's a harem of sexy mistresses, and they all are waiting for you to pull down their tops and ride them off into the sunset.
And that, my friend, is exactly what we did.
There is no more a perfect environment to own and drive a car than in the greater San Francisco area, as there are literally dozens of day trips that will take you through some of the most beautiful landscapes in Northern California, from the hideaway retreats of Big Sur and the grape country of Napa to the tide-pool-speckled beaches of Cambria.