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P2P Car Sharing Etc

Rachel Botsman gave an interesting TED talk about Collaborative Consumption, various ways of sharing and redistributing objects to save money and reduce their environmental impact [1]. It’s a pity that there isn’t something like swap.com in Australia.

P2P Car Rental

Among other things she mentioned P2P car rentals. The first company she listed is Drive My Car (link to the Australian site) [2] which has a good range of vehicles. They charge 16.5% as an admin fee, the rest is paid to the owner. Strangely they have a web page to estimate what you can get for your vehicle, but the rates that are returned by that page seem to be a lot lower than what cars are actually advertised for (I guess that the owner can ignore the recommendation and charge whatever they want). They deal in daily rentals and the owner may specify a minimum period – 4 days seems common. There are no changes needed to the car and the car owner only has to pay $25 per annum to be listed.

Relay Rides operates in Boston and San Francisco [3], they operate on a per-hour basis and require some sort of RFID unlocking device to be added to each car. The normal setup fee for a car owner is $250 but they currently have a promotion that waives that fee.

Get Around is a beta service that presumably operates only in the US (they seem US centric and don’t specify locations) [4]. They appear to offer per-hour rentals and require hardware to unlock the car. It seems that to get most of the useful information (prices etc) you need to sign up which is a mistake on their part.

Whip Car advertises their service on a supposed relationship between the car owner and the renter [5], I’ve met the people who live in about 10 houses of the 50 in my street, so if a random person in my street offered a car for rent then there would be a 80% chance that I don’t know them – but I guess if one of my neighbors had a car to rent at a low price I might be more inclined to get to know them. The information page says that drivers must have a UK driving licence which implies that they only operate in the UK. Why don’t these people state clearly on their web site the country that they service? Their business model seems interesting, I can imagine a few people who live near each other pooling funds to buy a vehicle and then using Whip Car to control reservations and manage sharing the costs.

P2P Rental of Other Things

A logical extension of the Whip Car concept is to have a service which only mediates sharing between trusted parties. It would have a web site that manages bookings including issues such as the minimum time between bookings, charges a flat fee per item that is managed, and then gives a summary to all parties of what the use was. Ideally it would allow for bidding for peak times. This could work for cars, computers, cameras, holiday homes, or anything else which can usefully be transferred between different users.

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