Whipcar in London says they are the first service allowing everyday citizens to rent out their cars to the public for money. At first blush, it may sound like a crazy idea, but the more you learn about it, the saner it sounds. First of all, the service is free. You register your vehicle through their website and it becomes searchable to people who are looking for a vehicle to rent. The car seekers have to also register for the site, and are screened by Whipcar to ensure they have safe driving records and are of age. Car seekers identify suitable vehicles for rent close to their location, and book them. The car owners receive an email and text message via the Whipcar site, and agree or disagree to the terms. If there is an agreement, the two parties meet, and the rental begins.
The concept is similar to conventional car sharing agencies such as City Car Share (I’m a member and like it) except that each car for rent is owned by an individual. Such a service will start up in Boston soon (Relay Rides). In California, Spride Share is set to follow pending state legislation.
This new personal car sharing effort is intriguing. It could create a sense of community where none existed. It could also create tension and arguments between neighbors over damage to vehicles and related issues. Who knows exactly how it will unfold, but it seems bold, sensible and mutually beneficial. Car owners get to defray their costs, and car seekers get to drive when necessary, without having to own a car.
Image Credit: Dave Murty