What is car sharing?
[ Photo credits: Dave Reld’s Flickr ]
You know what they say: sharing is caring. In the last few years, many industries have embraced the idea of sharing, and the auto industry is one of them. Car sharing is an alternative to rental cars, car ownership, or even taxis. Owning a car is such a hassle nowadays. Parking spots are almost impossible to find. People that have a driver’s license find sharing a car way cheaper, and satisfying their need for mobility. What’s great about it is that you can rent it by hour, or even by a number of minutes. That way, you won’t have to pay for a full day, if you don’t need it for that much time. The service is also available all year long, 24/7.
Car sharing could seem like a potential danger for car manufacturers. In fact, companies that produce cars encourage this service of sharing, and make partnerships with these companies, by promoting their brands at the same time. Ford, BMW, or Toyota are just some of these names. This is a good strategy, because people that rent cars would be more tempted to buy a car they’ve already tested and liked. However, car manufacturers can’t force people to buy their cars, but they can understand and fulfill their needs, and build a relationship with them.
Car sharing can prove to be very good for the environment. According to The Economist, one car that is shared can replace 15 owned cars. This is quite impressive. Sure, not many people think about the environment when they share a car, but I thought it was worth mentioning.
Let’s see what are the biggest companies that offer this service.
Zipcar, the largest car sharing service
Zipcar has been around for 14 years now. The first shared car was a VW green Beetle. You can use your smartphone to rent a car from Zipcar, too. A membership starts from $6/month. Isn’t that a bargain? They have different options for you to choose from. They offer this service for universities and businesses too, and they list on their website all the benefits you can get from using it. Is Zipcar on the way of disrupting the business industry, too?
RelaysRides is a car sharing service that helps you rent a car, or you can list yours so that other people can rent it. You can see the profile of the person that wants to rent your car, and decide whether you trust them or not. Also, the renters are selected based on some eligibility criteria, which, the company says, are “the strictest in the industry”. RelayRides gives you the option to pick up a car right from the airport. This is very convenient, especially if you travel a lot, and you don’t want to spend a lot of money on taxi, or rely on someone else to pick you up. And if you want to leave the car at the airport for a minimum of three days until you get back from your trip, parking is free. This is great, because we all know how expensive airport parking is. RelayRides is available in the United States, except New York. You can choose from various models from Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, Honda, Dodge, Chevrolet, Volvo, Toyota, and many others.
Getaround – share your neighbor’s car
Getaround is a peer-to-peer car sharing startup with a very cool idea. I wonder how nobody has thought about this before. You probably have plenty of neighbors too that own cars they don’t use. Traffic, expensive gas, and all that jazz makes them pretty much abandon their cars in front of their house. Getaround thought that it would be a terrific idea for people that live nearby to rent their neighbor’s car. Who wouldn’t want to earn $1 000 a month from a car they don’t use? Getaround provides thousands of cars to choose from, roadside assistance, and full insurance. It is available in San Francisco, Portland, Chicago, Austin and San Diego. Thanks to the DMV, all the drivers are checked, to make sure they weren’t involved in any accident. You can list your car, or rent one, no matter the model. From Aston Martin, to Toyota, they are all eligible.
Car Next Door
Car Next Door is available in Sydney and Melbourne. It’s the first Australian neighbor-to-neighbor car sharing service. The difference between Car Next Door and other similar services, is that the shared cars belong to your neighbors, rather than to a company. There are plenty of cars to choose from, as this depends on who decides to share it. By choosing Car Next Door, you will have 24/7 support, and an insurance policy to protect you in case of an accident.
DriveNow is a car sharing service born in 2011. It is available in some cities from Germany, North America, and Austria. You can rent a BMW or a MINI. In Germany, it is available in Berlin (where you can choose from 900 vehicles), Cologne (has 350 BMW and MINI models), Munich (has 410 cars), Hamburg (offers 450 models), and Dusseldorf (with 250 cars). In Austria, you can find DriveNow only in Vienna. Here, it offers 400 vehicles to choose from. In the United States, you can use this service only in San Francisco.
Car2Go charges you by the minute, by the hour, or by day. It’s available in many European and North American cities, such as Amsterdam, Austin, Berlin, Calgary, Denver, Florence, Los Angeles, Miami, Rome, or Seattle. You can find all the cities on their website. Here is a list with how many cars each city has to offer. What’s unique about Car2Go is that it rents only Smart ForTwo. Plus, you can choose to drive an electric car.
BlueIndy is a car sharing service that is the perfect fit for electric car lovers. Their cars run on battery, instead of fuel, and they can go up to 240 kilometers in a single charge. It’s available only in Indianapolis. According to this article, we should expect to see 125 electric blue cars by the end of this year, and charging stations as well.
Is owning a car really worth it nowadays?
Overall, the sharing economy is developing more and more, and is here to stay. We should expect more car manufacturers to embrace the idea of sharing a car. Car sharing is definitely a smarter way to travel, and it’s proven to be more efficient. Have you ever tried this service? What do you think about this disruptive auto industry?