By Natalie Wise
There is a new trend in the car rental arena: Peer-to-peer car sharing, or personal vehicle sharing. Car owners are renting or sharing time for their personal cars to strangers.
USA Today reports that RelayRides, one of the current peer-sharing car facilitators, states most personal cars are unused 90 percent of the time. With a car sitting idle for 90 percent of the time, it’s no surprise some owners want to cash in.
While car sharing services like ZipCar, now part of Avis Budget Group, have been popular for a decade, the cars in those programs are owned and maintained by the company, much like a traditional rental car agency. Peer-to-peer car sharing companies are facilitators between renters and owners.
The number of members in these companies is growing rapidly.
A study published by the University of California at Berkeley’s Transportation Sustainability Research Center estimated there were more than 891,953 people sharing 12,131 vehicles in peer-to-peer car sharing networks across the country. Carsharing membership grew 24.1 percent in the United States between January 2012 and January 2013.
In spite of the expansion across the United States, the majority of car-sharing takes place in major cities. JustShareIt and Jolly Wheels operate around the country, but no cars were found for sharing within an hour of Kent.
Some cars are even available for pickup directly at the airport. If you were flying into San Diego, one of the fastest growing urban areas, you can choose “Jason’s Honda,” a 2011 CR-V for $50 a day, or “Tom’s Prius” from 2005 for $30 a day from RelayRides or take a taxi to a number of cars available on JustShareIt that rent by the hour or the day.
There are concerns about safety and trust for car owners and renters. RelayRides protects car owners with a $1 million liability insurance policy and strictly screens potential renters. Car owners have the ability to choose which reservation requests they accept for their car. For renters, RelayRides offers protection options and 24/7 roadside assistance.
Getaround, headquartered in San Francisco, created a patent-pending technology that renders handing over keys to renters obsolete. Once a car is equipped with the small piece of hardware, renters can lock and unlock the car using a smartphone. The tool even includes GPS tracking and tamper detection.
The trend comes as part of a larger trend toward communal items and sharing of resources. The movement is sometimes referred to as collaborative consumption, in an attempt to reduce the carbon footprint of individuals, and thus, society.