Owning a car is great, it’s a symbol of independence and maybe even success. The often unspoken truth, however, is that once you factor in costs like depreciation, you’re going to be paying for a lot of time you don’t use. For some people this makes sense. Anyone with a long commute, or who spends a lot of time driving on the job, having constant access to a vehicle is the only way to go, but if you’re someone who only needs to drive infrequently, then there’s other options out there. Car-sharing services offer a convenient and cost-effective way only to pay for the driving hours you use.
What is Car Sharing?
Different from car hire services, car sharing allows you to rent a car on an hourly basis from a dedicated share car, or private owner. As more and more companies are springing up all over Australia, car-sharing locations are being dispersed in increasingly convenient locations around all the main cities. They are even starting to pop up around apartment blocks, making it just as easy to pick one up as it would be if it were your car.
Many of the companies offering this service, such as Hertz 24/7, own fleets of cars that they distribute around cities but the rising trend is towards peer-to-peer car sharing. This connects car owners whose cars often sit unused, with people in need of a car for a short time. A new company, Car hood, even focuses on the time when your idle car would be costing you money sitting in airport parking. It lets car owners park for free while they travel, and hopefully earn a few bucks renting it out to others. When I checked the Carhood website, the cars for rent from Melbourne Airport seemed really cheap in comparison to the other major brand Melbourne Airport rental companies such as Hertz, Avis, Europ car etc. See the image at the end of this article to see what I mean.
How Does Car Sharing Work?
Typically a car sharing service requires a membership which gives you access to a car for a certain number of hours per month. After signing up, members usually receive a keycard or something similar. The process from there is simple, book a car, pick it up, drive it, and then drop it off again. All the major companies offer online booking as well as dedicated apps.
For car owners wishing to rent out their car, all that is needed is to sign up, list your car, set the price and availability, and then earn a little money from your vehicle. The companies are very aware of how protective people get over their vehicles and offer full insurance coverage again damage. Earnings vary with Car hood paying owners 25% of the rental fee, and companies like Car Next door and DriveMyCar paying up to 75% of the hourly driving rate.
How Much Does Car Sharing Cost?
There is a myriad of membership plans available. Here are some of the options from a few of the companies offering this service.
Hourly fees: $6.35-$10.35
Daily fee: $74.00-$85.00
Hourly fees: $8.95-$13.50
Daily rate: $55.00-$79.00
Hourly fees: $11.99-$15.99
Daily fee: $79.00-$99.99
Overall it breaks down to about $10-$20 per trip. At first glance that can seem high, but mostly it is just because it includes a lot of the hidden car related costs up front, such as gas, insurance, and maintenance. Whether or not it is the economical choice will depend a lot on personal driving needs. It seems to make financial sense for anyone driving under around 5,000 km per year. Over that, and owning your car is a better option.
What Are the Benefits of Car Sharing?
Whether or not you’ll save money, there are some other reasons to consider car sharing. The biggest one is probably the effect it has on the municipal environment. Cars take up a lot of space when they just sit there parked. The city government of Sydney estimates that each car share vehicle can replace up to 12 private vehicles. That’s a lot less space that would need to be set aside for parking, enough that many cities have become strong proponents of the system.
They have found that overall benefits to the city include:
• Lower travel times and traffic congestion
• Less time spent looking for parking
• Health benefits from people doing more walking
• More efficient vehicle usage
• Better air quality from fewer cars being on the road
Of course, if you’re a car owner the main benefit is that you can earn some money from your idle vehicle. Earnings tend to range from $2,500 a year, to $6,000 a year, which may not seem like a lot, but it is unrealized potential for anyone not doing this.
The growth of car sharing represents a great shift in public consciousness away from conspicuous consumption. A large number of cars can place a significant burden on the infrastructure and environment of local cities, and when many of those cars just sit around not being used, it can get hard to justify. Car sharing is a great way to make better use of our resources, and for owners earn a little money on the side.
Big brand vehicle companies are developing technologies that will propel the easy use of car sharing by using smartphone apps instead of keys. Check out the video at the bottom of the post we featured recently on smart keys. Volvo is developing “smart” vehicle keys to enable sharing of vehicles by devices such as cell phones.