A Guide: Peer-to-Peer Car Share

car shareThe average automobile sits idle 92% of the day and costs an average of $7319 to own, operate, and maintain each year according to the AAA. Peer-to-peer car share allows people to rent their own vehicles to others when they are not being used. The best known traditional car sharing program Zipcar, owns or leases 9,500 vehicles in 170 U.S. cities, and charges a membership fee starting at $60.  With peer-to-peer car share, there is usually no membership fee and hourly fees start around $5 per hour. California law now permits car owners to rent their vehicles to car share companies without fear of losing private automobile insurance coverage.  It is this ability to assign insurance coverage to renters that has limited growth of car share programs in other states however, this is expected to change soon as states consider insurance and liability issues.  It is estimated by Frost & Sullivan that 5.5 million people will join car sharing networks by 2016 in North America.

Getaround –  Locations: San Francisco, San Diego, and Portland, OR. Expansion to other cities planned. Pricing: Free membership plus $1 booking fee. Owners pay a 40% commission. Rental fees start at $6-$8 an hour. Includes insurance ($500 deductible) and roadside assistance but not gas. Reservations: Via Getaround Website, Facebook account required for verification. iPhone app used to open rental car door and get key.

WhipCar – UK based car share program.  Locations: London and 450 other UK cities. Pricing: Free membership and £3.00 booking fee. Owners pay 15% commission + VAT. Rental fees start at  £27 per day. Includes insurance (£500 deductible) and roadside assistance but not gas. Reservations: Via WhipCar Website. Open only to those holding valid UK drivers license.

RelayRides –  GM invested $3 Million in this car share program.  RelayRide installs a device that allows cars to be unlocked with a chip card and a GPS device that is capable of tracking the location of the vehicle and disabling the ignition in case of unauthorized use. GM has plans to launch OnStar-enabled vehicles this spring, paving the way for access to 5 million vehicles to RelayRides. Locations: San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia, NY City, and other locations. Pricing: Free membership. Owners pay a 40% commission. Rental fees start at $5 an hour with 20 mile limit, $55 per day with 160 mile limit. Includes insurance and roadside assistance but not gas. Reservations: Via RelayRides website.  Mobile access or key exchange with owner available.

Wheelz – Backed by Fontinalis Partners, a Detroit-based investment firm founded by Bill Ford, Chairman of Ford Motor Company. Locations: Stanford University Campus, UC Berkeley, USC, and UCLA. Plans to expand to other campuses. Pricing: Free membership to those passing background check. Rental fees start at $3.50-$10 an hour and includes 15 mile limit per hour, 120 miles per day plus $.40 per mile over 120 miles. Includes insurance and gas however Wheelz members must refuel vehicle anytime fuel is below 1/4 tank using gas card located in glove box. Reservations: Via Wheelz website or iPhone app.  Wheelz installs it's Drivebox allowing members to lock/unlock vehicle with iPhone app or Wheelz Card and track vehicle location via GPS.

JustShareIt – Newcomer just launched this January allows the sharing of cars, motorcycles, boats, and RVs. Locations: Oregon, California, Texas, and Virginia. Expansion to other cities planned. Pricing: Free membership to those passing DMV and background check plus $1 booking fee. Owners pay 35% commission for car/truck rental and 40% commission for RV rentals. Rental fees start at $5 an hour. Includes insurance ($500 deductible/cars $1000-$2000/RVs) and roadside assistance but not gas. Reservations: Via JustShareIt Website, Facebook account required for verification. Android iPhone app used to open rental car door and get key. Update 4/13/12 iPhone and Blackberry Apps coming soon.

Rent2Buy – Formerly HiGear was aquired by Rent2Buy in February of 2012.  Peer-to-peer car share club for luxury and sports car enthusiasts that lets members rent to own at up to 50% savings. Locations: San Francisco and Los Angeles Pricing: Free membership however Rent2Buy keeps 30% commission for each rental.  Rental fees start at $80 a day for a Porsche with 150 mile limit. Insurance costs $20-$40 daily, plus $1,000 security deposit. Renters under age 21 must pay an additional $15 per day. Reservations: Members are screened and must be 18. Renters pick up keys personally from owner.

Benefits of Car Share Programs

In a study by Nelson Nygaard Association, car sharing reduces car ownership, miles driven, and increases walking, biking, and use of mass transit.  Some findings of the study: even though car ownership has a very high initial cost, people are more likely to make unnecessary trips since individual trip costs are small.  Car Share programs turn this equation upside down.  There are no initial costs with car sharing but individual trip costs are higher and car share members must weigh this cost versus walking, biking, or riding mass transit. Research has shown that car share members make fewer trips, walk, bike, and use mass transit more.

Car sharing can significantly lower the number of vehicles on the road, cutting traffic congestion and eliminating the accompanying CO2 gas emissions.  A benefit for households is the ability to reduce the costs associated with owning and maintaining a second vehicle.

Owners who rent their vehicles as part of a car sharing program can make an average of 60% of rental fees.  According to Getaround's website owners who rent their vehicles an average of 4 hours per week would earn $921.60 per year while a vehicle rented an average of 20 hours per week would earn $4,608 per year.

Under what circumstances would you consider using a car share program?

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