Make your car pay for itself

By Allen Penticoff

Ford Motor Credit has recently teamed up with the car sharing resource Getaround to help customers afford to drive a new car. Using prescreened members of Getaround, new car owners can let someone rent their car or truck while they are not using it. This peer-to-peer sharing (P2P) is managed by Getaround’s hardware and software that allows access to the vehicle and manages billing and payment. The incentive is that the average owner earns $521 per month. Some San Fransisco, California owners have earned over $10,000 per year.

Currently this sharing is available in the cities of San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Portland, Washington D.C. and Chicago. But there is no reason it could not expand into less dense areas, and into areas with lower incomes. There is a positive impact on lower and middle income people and families who do not need to endure the burden of auto ownership for minimal auto needs, while others can profitably rent their vehicle to save thousands on their limited budgets (think – Granny doesn’t drive much, but still needs a reliable new car to get around with). Each rental is covered by a $1 million primary insurance policy provided by Getaround.

Car sharing enterprises like Getaround and Zipcar take 9 to 13 cars off the road for each vehicle in the fleet. This translates into an estimated 100,000 pounds of carbon dioxide not being emitted into the atmosphere. It also complements rather than supplants public transportation. Most users of car sharing use public transportation for their day-to-day commutes and use the shared vehicles for shopping and longer trips to places not well served by public transportation. Or, you drive your own electric car about town to save money on gas and rent a shared car for longer trips.

General Motors did a similar car sharing union in 2011 with the first online car sharing site, that relies on GM’s OnStar system as part of the sharing process. Checking their site today, it seems their car sharing enterprise is even more expansive than that of Getaround. Cars and trucks are available from a variety of manufacturers and range from the economical to the luxurious. They also offer at airport pick up in many cities. Getaround also rents BMWs, Mini Coopers and Teslas along with other makes I’m sure. Both companies websites indicate that there is no annual or monthly fee to be a renter, all you need is a drivers license and a credit card to get approval, and their smartphone app to unlock the rented car.

A graphic on the site indicated a Toyota Prius could be rented for $7 per hour or $56 per day. RelayRide’s site shows a scrolling display of cars with their daily prices – say you want to rent a replica 1957 Porsche 356 “Speedster” for $195 per day? Sure beats paying $80,000 for a real one.

So it seems that the use of mobile technology and the sharing economy have joined to create companies that manage the details without the need of owning expensive depreciating assets. Just as you might use your own vehicle as a taxi cab working with Uber, or renting a couch, room, apartment or house via the P2P accommodations sites; there are ways around having an expensive vehicle sit in your garage or driveway doing nothing but costing you money. Share or put it to work. Someone needs it.

If you are interested in renting out your car, or in becoming a renter of a shared car, visit these (and possibly other) sites to learn of the details. Although I could foresee some serious problems – as any rental company will tell you, hopefully you will have a good experience in sharing.

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