Car ownership is becoming increasingly expensive, which has resulted in fewer cars being bought. A knock-on effect of this is an increase in the popularity of car-sharing and a lot more car-sharing companies being established.
In this article, we will look more at car sharing and how it works. Plus the types of car-sharing services available.
What is Car Sharing?
Car sharing – also called a car club in the UK – is a type of car rental service where people rent cars for only a few hours at a time. It differs from traditional car rentals, as oftentimes, the cars are owned privately, while the car-sharing company is a separate entity. It is similar to Airbnb, but with cars and not accommodation.
Car sharing allows those with a valid driver’s license to access different vehicle brands and use them for short periods of time. These car clubs often depend on smartphone applications which allow users to find cars, meet up with the car’s owner, and exchange the keys.
Car owners must ensure they have the right vehicle insurance before getting involved with car-sharing services. Some types of insurance to consider include:
- temporary car insurance
- temporary learner driver insurance if the person using the car is using it to teach a learner to drive
- short-term car sharing insurance
Difference Between a Car Rental Company and a Car-Sharing Service
Although car-sharing is a car rental service, it differs in several ways.
- Car sharing allows you to rent a car for only a few hours at a time, and you pay for the time you had the car as well as how many miles you have driven.
- Car sharing allows you to access a car at any time of the day – not only during company business hours.
- You will probably save more money when using a car-sharing service than when compared to a traditional car rental company.
How Does Car Sharing Work?
Car sharing is a straightforward process.
Firstly, you must find out if car-sharing services are available in your city. You can do this through a quick online search. You can join a car service application from your phone or a website offering this service.
Once you have signed up and registered, you will be able to find and reserve your preferred car. Most services offer a membership card which can be used to unlock the preferred vehicle.
Most cars offered through these services are located at parking spot pick-up points throughout the city. You will be able to locate the car through the app. Once you arrive at the location, you simply wave your membership card to unlock the vehicle.
When you are done with the car, you return it to the same parking spot.
Different Types of Car Sharing
There are five models that car-sharing companies generally use:
1) Round-trip car sharing
Drivers begin and end their trip at the same place and leave the car in the same parking spot where they found it. This model requires drivers to pay by the hour, mile, or both.
2) One-way car sharing
This allows drivers to begin their trip at one place and end at another by leaving the car at a designated parking location.
3) Corporate car sharing
This enables the company to share vehicles between employees who require a vehicle that day. One corporate shared car can replace eight non-shared cars.
4) Peer-to-peer car sharing
This refers to personal car sharing, where the cars are privately owned, but the leasing system runs through a third-party car-sharing company.
5) Fractional ownership
Fractional car ownership allows multiple people to co-own a car, sharing costs, maintenance and use. This is a handy model in areas with plenty of public transportation, where cars are not a necessity.
The Pros and Cons of Car Sharing
Car sharing pros
There are plenty of benefits to joining a car-sharing company.
Car ownership is expensive, so joining a car-sharing service will help you save money on maintenance and insurance. Car sharing is a cost-effective solution to renting different car models as and when needed.
Membership fees for these services are often very low, making it an affordable alternative to car rental or ownership.
Getting involved with car-sharing will reduce your carbon footprint and emissions significantly. If more people sign up for car-sharing services, there will be fewer vehicles on the road, less traffic, fewer parking spots, more green areas, and a reduction in harmful greenhouse gases.
City dwellers can attest to the stress of owning a car in a bustling neighbourhood. There are limited parking spaces, and often you have to either pay a lot for prime parking or walk far to get to your car (a real hassle if you are carrying anything or have children).
Car-sharing takes away the stress of owning a vehicle. You can simply book a car, drive at short notice, and select the perfect car to suit your needs.
You can find a car with more cargo space for your weekend away, a small compact car to quickly zip between boroughs or a night on the town.
4) Freedom to explore
Members of a car-sharing service will have the option to drive where they want when they want. People in densely populated areas that depend on public transport often have to plan trips around transportation timetables and routes. Having a car for a few hours or days will allow you to explore different areas at times that suit you the best.
Car sharing cons
Despite all the benefits of car sharing, there are some drawbacks.
1) Surge in prices at peak hours
During rush hours there will be increased prices, as more people want a car during those times. If the demand is higher, so is the cost.
2) Not finding the car you want
If car-sharing is still new to your city, you may not want to find the right car as it will be in demand or is not yet available to rent.
3) Limits on your milage
Some car-sharing companies cap how far you can drive, making it less ideal for longer getaways. You will have to consider a conventional rental company if that is the case.
How do ride-sharing and car-sharing compare?
Ride-sharing services, like Bolt, Uber or Lift, use pre-approved drivers to transport passengers to their desired destinations.
Car sharing allows drivers to rent a privately owned car and drive it themselves.
What insurance should I get if I want to do car sharing?
According to the Association of British Insurers, car-sharing will not affect the car insurance of members, as long as there is no profit.
It is best to check with your insurance company to make sure your personal policy will cover car sharing.
Is car sharing more environmentally friendly than owning a car?
Car sharing is definitely more environmentally-friendly than owning a car. A shared car will replace between six to 20 cars on the road, significantly reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
Several car models are also available for car sharing, including hybrid and electric vehicles, which are much more efficient and green than petrol or diesel vehicles. Car-sharing vehicles are mostly newer cars with clean, green technologies. These cars tend to have excellent fuel efficiency and reduced emissions.
If you own a car, you will drive it for convenience, and since you paid for it already, you won’t give it a second thought.
Car sharing forces people to reconsider their need for driving, especially when it comes to driving short distances or taking individual trips. If you have a car, you are bound to quickly pop into the car and head to the shops without a second thought.
If you are a member of a car-sharing company, you probably will reconsider the short drive – perhaps you can walk, cycle or take public transport. Driving less means fewer greenhouse gases are emitted.
Due to urbanisation, more and more people are moving to the city in search of work opportunities and security. Large cities mostly have public transport systems in place, and developed nations are moving towards improving the walkability and cyclability of cities by introducing dedicated walking or cycling lanes.
On top of all this is the increase in the popularity of car sharing. When no public transport is available, car-sharing offers an excellent alternative to costly car ownership or even traditional car rental.
It is without a doubt that car-sharing services are here to stay, especially in large cities where many people only require cars for a few hours or days at a time.