Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Millennials "Peer" Into Ride-Sharing Transportation Service

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Millennials "Peer" Into Ride-Sharing Transportation Service

In a tough economy, especially one where one might find themselves living in a high-density metropolis, car-ownership may not strike one as ownership at all. Most cars are purchased on time (so the finance company actually owns the car), it gets parked during the day at a parking structure near ones work (so a parking lot service takes possession of the car for a fee for this time), the insurance company owns an interest stake which the person who maintains the title on the vehicle pays in order to even out the potential for a catastrophe, and so on, and on, and on!

So here is an idea that is catching on with Millennials who are beginning to realize that if one owns a car, they actually have an asset that can help pay for itself. By renting the car when it is not in use, it can provide a temporary solution to a transportation problem for people who find themselves in need of a short-term, self-directed, closed-loop ride.

Enter Getaround - Getaround specializes in providing a seamless, peer-to-peer car-sharing experience by using smartphone technology to empower people everywhere to share vehicles and utilize smarter transportation options. For as little as $6 an hour, users can conveniently rent cars from people nearby … by the hour, day, or week and save hundreds of dollars on car payments, auto insurance, and maintenance. Car owners, while making a positive impact on the environment, can make money by renting out their cars to help offset the high costs of car ownership. Through building a community founded on trust and technology, Getaround can make it easy to, well … get around!
(description ht: Getaround website)

How it works - people who have a car they want to share can make them available by setting the price per hour or day for their car when they’re not planning on using it. People who need a car are able to sign-up for the vehicle. The owner maintains the final say in who can rent their car. When a rental is confirmed, a user gets a key on the Getaround iPhone app to unlock the car.

Getting access to cars is provided through a remote car kit that an owner installs easily in their car. A renter then uses the digital key found in the Getaround iPhone app to unlock the car when they arrive. The physical car key is left inside. Renters insurance is handled by Berkshire Hathaway, which provides liability, collision, and comprehensive coverage that supersedes the policies of both owners and renters during the rental period.

Getaround’s founder, Sam Zaid, outlined that the service uses a reputation management system with review and ratings so owners and renters can get a sense of who they’re dealing with. The start-up makes money by taking a 40 percent cut of each transaction.

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This excerpted and edited from Sustainable Industries –

Rent your neighbor's ride
By Sara Stroud - Sustainable Industries, May 2, 2011

San Francisco has emerged as the test bed for new peer-to-peer car sharing services like Getaround, RelayRides and Spride Share that hope to turn a profit while reducing the impact of carbon-spewing vehicles by eliminating the need to own one. These startups are betting that there are thousands of people like Prager and Lee in San Francisco, home to a population of techno-savvy, environmentally conscious early adopters already accustomed to sharing on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks born in the Bay Area.

And so Getaround and its competitors are using the city’s hilly streets to try out business models that could make borrowing your neighbor’s car only slightly more difficult than borrowing a cup of sugar.

But the companies aren’t just competing with each other. They’re going head-to-head with the idea of what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is yours, banking on seemingly un-businesslike concepts of trust and sharing, and hoping to create community along with profits.

The idea for Getaround was hatched in 2009. Two of its three founders, Jessica Scorpio and Sam Zaid, were among the inaugural class at Singularity University, a Silicon Valley interdisciplinary postgraduate program aimed at using technology to solve social, environmental and humanitarian problems.
While many companies are focused on revamping transportation through electric vehicles, biofuels and other disruptive technologies, Scorpio and her colleagues wanted to focus on something that could have a more immediate impact.

Getaround’s founders decided they wanted to upend conventional ideas about car ownership. Established car sharing companies like Zipcar were a great start, as they saw it.
Shelby Clark came to a similar conclusion in his own car sharing experience, which inspired him to start RelayRides, a peer-to-peer car sharing startup that was born in Boston and is now headquartered in San Francisco.

Clark turned to car sharing after a cross-country move in 2007. His car broke down, and after dragging his muffler across the state of Nevada, the car struggled across the Bay Bridge, collapsed in San Francisco and never started again. Clark signed up for Zipcar to tide him over until he bought a new car. A year later, he was still car free, and hadn’t missed the burdens of ownership.
Since the cars in the peer-to-peer services are people’s personal vehicles, there’s a much wider range of rides available than there is through a typical car rental or a traditional car sharing service. There’s also likely to be personal touches, like random CD collections, or in Prager’s case, a little dog hair – call it the fuzzy-dice-in-the-rearview-mirror factor.

Cars range from Toyota Corollas and late- 90s Volkswagen Beetles going for $5 and $6 an hour to more exotic cars like a smart fortwo and a bright yellow 2007 Hummer, which rents for $13 per hour.

For anyone willing to shell out $50 an hour, Getaround also offers a Tesla Roadster. Getaround administers the rental and keeps the car in a garage in the city, on loan from its owner who wants people to have the experience of driving an electric car.
The face-to-face interaction of the key swap is something Ishmael Riles says he likes about lending his car through Getaround. A web developer who shares a flat with roommates in San Francisco’s Mission District, Riles and his 2009 Subaru belong to both Getaround and RelayRides.

Riles was a longtime Zipcar member but bought his car when he got a job that required commuting. Now, with a different job, his car sits idle most of the time – Riles estimates he uses it himself only about once a week.

In the three months since he started his car sharing experiment, he’s lent out his car about once a week, and has made about $600 through both services combined. He’s also made a shift in how he thinks about his vehicle.

“It was definitely a change in my attitude towards my car,” Riles says. “I went from thinking of it as an expensive thing that loses value to something that can pay for itself.”
[Reference Here]

As more Millennials identify themselves with a sharing culture, the burgeoning social and business movement of collaborative consumption, people are trading ownership for access.

From power tools and children’s clothes to finance and housing, it’s a movement that’s taking root in a wide swath of markets. Personal transportation through services like Getaround are just examples of this social collaborative approach … but can one really achieve the desired ideals of needs-satisfaction while having to rely on the time, availability, and resources of others?

… notes from The EDJE

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