Car-sharing services like Zipcar and RelayRides are poised to shake up the auto industry. On a macro-level, they represent a huge change in the way that we view and use automobiles. In more practical terms, they reduce the public's need to buy cars.
How much of a reduction have they caused? According to one firm, car-sharing services have cost automakers 500,000 in lost car sales since their debut. And it's about to get a whole lot worse.
The news comes from the consulting firm Alix Partners via CNBC, which reports that previous estimates have underestimated car-sharing's impact on auto sales. On average, the firm estimates that 32 vehicle sales are lost for every vehicle added to a car-sharing fleet.
Assuming that stat is correct and that demand remains flat, it could spell big trouble for automakers as car-sharing fleets expand. Alix believes that over the next seven years, an additional 1.2 million vehicle sales could be lost to car-sharing.
Not surprisingly, automakers are taking notice. In fact, many like General Motors and Daimler have either launched their own sharing services or partnered with existing companies to preserve revenue going forward.
How big of a revenue stream will these projects represent for legacy automakers? What new players will spring up to challenge the old guard? Will car-sharing eventually overpower car ownership? We've got no idea, but we'll do our best to keep you posted as these stories develop.