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Ditching The Car, Finding Wheel Deals

Last month, the Richardsons in Northwest Philadelphia decided to say goodbye to an old family friend: their 2001 Buick Sentry.

It was just getting too expensive, CBS News transportation and consumer safety correspondent Nancy Cordes reports.

"We're probably saving $3- to $400 a month," Andrew Richardson said. "Easily."

"Do you miss your car?" Cordes asked.

"I do not," he said.

They still have wheels - they just have to share them.

For $15 a month, and $4 an hour, Andrew and Jessica Richardson can reserve a car at any one of Philly Car Share's 250 "car pods." Gas is included.

One swipe of a key fob, and away they go. In this case, to the grocery store.

"It does take more planning, but it's not difficult," Andrew said. "You just spend your time better, you're more efficient with your day."

With gas pushing $4.10 a gallon, a full fifth of Center City residents have climbed on board, making Philly Car Share the nation's largest regional auto-sharing network.

But several other cities are hot on its wheels.

Membership in Chicago's I-Go program has jumped 43 percent since last june.

With demand like that, now even the traditional car rental companies are getting in on the act. Hertz, Enterprise, even U-Haul are all experimenting with renting cars by the hour.

At the same time, rental agencies are beefing up their regular fleets with hybrids and compacts, because that's what gas-weary customers are asking for.

Avis and the rest are now competing with auto-sharing companies such as ZipCar, that don't charge for gas at all.

"You know, if gas prices go up another dollar, it doesn't really impact me," one ZipCar driver said.

If this trend continues, by the time young Anabel Richardson grows up, she may never own a car - because she won't have to.

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