Something is going on when, as happened last on my work last week, I was given leaflets in separate places by people promoting the new “pay as you go” car services, Streetcar and Zipcar.

The model is a simple one but transformational. Instead of owning your own car, the company owns then and makes sure that they are distributed throughout the city. Bookings are made online or by phone. You access the vehicle with your membership card, and pay the hourly or daily rate. But you don’t pay anything else – no tax, insurance, congestion charge, or depreciation.

It’s transformational because it changes the business model from ownership to access (as Jeremy Rifkin predicted in his book The Age of Access several years ago) and effectively reduces consumption as it does so.

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