A thoughtful New York Times article, Is Happiness Still That New Car Smell?, looks into changing attitudes about cars. Many people are deciding they can live without one, whether because of environmental or financial concerns. The article misses a pertinent point: If you use your car a lot, perhaps a couple trips a day, each trip is not terribly expensive. But if you use your car only twice a week, each trip becomes very expensive. This is because the cost of insurance is the same in both cases, and because of depreciation. The value of your car goes down each year even if you don’t use it very much. So a logical answer for many people is car-sharing, which is available in Portland with Zipcar or with U Car Share. A brief web search failed to locate any car sharing in Salem.

Here are some sections of the article:

Whether because of cost, convenience or environmental awareness, a small but growing number of people are making individual decisions to get rid of their automobiles and rely on public transportation, car-sharing programs and rental cars.

“There’s a cultural change taking place,” said John Casesa, a veteran auto industry analyst and partner in the Casesa Shapiro Group. “It’s partly because of the severe economic contraction. But younger consumers are viewing an automobile with a jaundiced eye. They don’t view the car the way their parents did, and they don’t have the money that their parents did.”

. . .

“People are questioning car purchases more than we’ve ever seen in recent history,” said Jesse Toprak, vice president of industry trends and insights for TrueCar, a company that tracks car-buying habits.

Young, cash-strapped consumers are delaying their first purchases longer, he said, robbing automakers of the chance to attract them early and keep their business as they move up in life.
Across the country, empty nesters are moving back into cities and shedding their cars. Toyota has identified 60 locales where it has seen this occur, according to James E. Lentz, the president of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., and it has begun thinking about whether it needs to open satellite offices to serve customers who’ve moved away from suburban dealerships.

Are you ready to give up your car for a Honda U3-X? It is referenced in the above NYT article.