The carsharing or car-sharing system is a model of car rental where people rent cars for short periods of time, often by the hour. They are attractive to customers who make only occasional use of a vehicle, as well as others who would like occasional access to a vehicle of a different type than they use day-to-day.
According to Wikipedia, carsharing services are available in over 1,000 cities in several countries. As of December 2012, there were an estimated 1.7 million car-sharing members in 27 countries, including so-called peer-to-peer services, according to the Transportation Sustainability Research Center at U.C. Berkeley. Of these, 800,000 were car-sharing members in the United States.
As of July 2017, car2go is the largest carsharing company in the world with 2,500,000 registered members and a fleet of nearly 14,000 vehicles in 26 locations in North America, Europe and Asia, followed by Zipcar with 767,000 members and 11,000 vehicles. According to Navigant Consulting, global carsharing services revenue will grow to US 6.2 billion by 2020, with over 12 million members worldwide. The main factors driving the growth of carsharing are the rising levels of congestion faced by city dwellers; shifting generational mindsets about car ownership; the increasing costs of personal vehicle ownership; and a convergence of business models. Carsharing contributes to sustainable transport because it is a less car intensive means of urban transport, and according to The Economist, carsharing can reduce car ownership at an estimated rate of one rental car replacing 15 owned vehicles. More about the concept here.
In February, the car-sharing service Zipcar signed a deal to provide vehicles to Uber, possibly portending additional future cooperation in the field of mobility services. Zipcar parent Avis Budget Group said that it would supply Uber drivers with the opportunity to ferry passengers around in Zipcar branded sedans. Although at the beginning the deal is limited to 20 sedans in Boston, it opens the door for similar collaboration in other cities.
Zipcar provides rent-by-the-hour vehicles to motorists, particularly in urban areas, as an alternative to car ownership. Now, Uber drivers will be allowed to access the fleet of vehicles in Boston to serve their customers at hourly rental rates.
“As the automotive landscape evolves, technology is playing an ever-increasing role in transportation services, and we are well-positioned to meet new and evolving customer needs and demands, as evidenced by this new partnership,” said Andrew Kupiec, a vice president for Avis Budget. “Our quality, well-maintained vehicles, coupled with Zipcar’s technology, will give Uber’s driver partners wheels when they want them.”
This move marked one of the latest in a series of Uber partnerships with car providers, including rental car firms Enterprise and Hertz, and most recently a deal with German automaker Daimler to provide self-driving cars in the future.
Moreover, last year, Uber started a partnership with GM’s Maven, representing a 90 day pilot in San Francisco that allowed the Uber drivers to lease a Chevrolet Cruze, Malibu or Trax for $179 per week (plus fees) with no mileage limit, and included insurance. “This partnership with Maven combines our vast ridesharing network with GM’s extensive fleet vehicles and gives people without access to a car the ability to easily make money driving on the Uber platform,” said back then Rachel Holt, regional general manager Uber, for engaged.com.
Following that, in April, Uber made another important step, by launching Uber Central, similar to the consumer version of Uber, except multiple cars can be ordered at once. The service could be especially valuable for businesses that need to pick up several clients from different places at the same time. Uber Central is part of the Uber for Business platform, which Uber launched a few years ago to help businesses manage employees’ ground transportation needs.
What is even more interesting and different is that passengers don’t need an Uber account or even a smartphone. The business itself manages the rides and all related information from a single dashboard. According to ciodive.com, Uber said more than 8,000 companies participated in the pilot program. The new tool also includes reporting, billing and management features.
Uber’s interest in the sharing cars’ programs and affiliations doesn’t stop here. Only four days ago it was announced that, following the 2016’s 90 days trial with GM’s Maven, the service is available now also in Boston, Phoenix, and Washington, DC, while Baltimore and Detroit are said to be following soon.
“The program is aimed at drivers for rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft, and delivery apps like Postmates, GrubHub, and InstaCart. Someone who’s interested in driving for any of these on-demand services, but doesn’t own a vehicle, can rent a Chevy Bolt through Maven Gig for $229-a-week. The weekly price includes insurance, maintenance, and electric vehicle charging. Maven first launched its gig worker product last May in San Diego and San Francisco. Since then, Maven says its customers have logged 170 million miles driving for various on-demand apps,” wrote The Verge.