We’ve covered the future of cars and car technology in news items before on this site (like Google’s self driving car and the rise in popularity of hybrid vehicles), but we haven’t covered how car use looks like it might change in the future.
The collision (if that’s the right word) of cars and the internet over the years has brought us easier ways to buy and sell cars, and with the recently revamped Aussie Car Loans site, an easier way to arrange car finance.
Now a host of startup businesses are looking to upset the dominance of the major car hire companies and give people an opportunity to get cars when they need them, on their terms, and at the same time reduce the number of cars on the road and help the environment.
Car sharing as a concept has been around for a long time, but these new services make full use of the internet and advances in car access/security technology to give people more options when they need to use a car.
One of the first of these companies was GoGet, which has a small fleet of cars parked in ‘pods’ in major cities around Australia. You pay a small membership fee and then by the hour and by the kilometre for the use of the car, which you book over the internet or over the phone. You then make your way to the car, which you can unlock and drive off with your pass card.
Regular car hire is of course not quite so flexible or accessible and tends to charge by the day, but Hertz now offers rental by the hour through “Hertz On Demand” in Sydney and Avis has recently bought Zipcar, which operates in the US, Canada, Spain and the UK, and does the same sort of thing. The other big difference is that carshare type services generally include the cost of petrol, and pass cards often come with a fuel card.
Now, a new service launched in Sydney last October, not only offers access to cars for people without them, but gives owners of cars that might be sitting unused for periods of time a chance to make money as well.
Entrepreneur Will Davies, had been a longtime member of GoGet, when he realised there was already a huge bank of underused cars in people’s driveways and garages that could perhaps be accessed. This led to the creation of CarNextDoor. The vision goes beyond the immediate benefits: Davies hopes to foster neighbourly relations as well as save people (and make people) money, and help the environment by reducing emissions.
Users in the scheme (they had 1,000 register to join at launch) pay a monthly fee which includes comprehensive insurance for car owners and damage cover for borrowers. Lenders can set their own price and get roughly 75% of the fee charged.
Interestingly a poll on one of the news sites covering the new company asking “Would you rent your car to the neighbours” shows 64% of respondents voting ‘no’. Obviously not reassured by CarNextDoor’s policy of vetting applicant driver history!