Sharing cars at the heart of community life (P2P)

Sharing cars at the heart of community life (P2P)

ARTICLE 3

Sharing cars at the heart of community life (P2P)

Another evolving dimension to Carsharing is led not by the big automotive industry and hire car players, but a response reflecting the new power of social networking and collective action, redefining how people think about their cars, and are ready to share them.

Peer-to-peer (P2P) services allow individuals to share their personal cars directly with others, changing the efficiency of vehicles against their capital and standing costs dramatically. Most cars sit idle 95% of the time. P2P allows access to that vast unused capacity, and enables car owners to earn money by driving less – which would be a win for the environment too.

It also eliminates the huge capital required for car sharing fleet expansion, enabling growth without new investment. The UK’s Whipcar, for example, grew to 19,000 vehicles in two short years, nearly doubling Zipcar’s global fleet, with just a tiny fraction of the financing.

Car owners have also been able to rent out their vehicles when they are not using them under the scheme launched in London by Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the easyJet founder, and Brent Hoberman, founder of Lastminute.com and run as a subsidiary of Haji-Ioannou’s online car rental firm easyCar, offering the car-sharing service alongside its usual hire vehicles.

Car owners who sign up for the scheme are able to set the price themselves and decide when their vehicles are available to be hired. San Francisco, a hotbed of innovation, hosted five P2P start-ups in 2012.

RelayRides launched in 2010 and already serves 13 US cities with several dozen car models, usually priced lower than Zipcar and traditional rentals. The future of Car Sharing may turn out to be in large part collaborative, participative, and co-created, not primarily corporate.

Likewise social entrepreneurs in developing countries are beginning to see the potential for using cars in new ways. New Carshare start-ups have launched recently in São Paulo, Beijing, Hangzhou, Istanbul, and Mexico City. Cities in India and China alone are expected to add 700 million new residents by 2030, most aspiring to join the burgeoning middle class and their cars.

Car sharing could help their cities stay compact and walkable, and establish a sustainable culture of mobility.

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