Cars are parked 96% of the time. That stat should really make us wonder about the future of car ownership. I think in mega cities like London most people will not own a car: they will simply use a combination of transport alternatives, such as tube + hiyacar + Uber. In fact, according to Transport for London, 46% of households do not have a car. I can see this percentage going up to 70 or 80% in the next few years.
Some people will still own 1 or 2 cars, but car ownership will be managed in a radically different way. Vehicles will be monetised by their owners while they don’t use them. These cars will belong to a peer to peer car rental scheme (hiyacar in London) and will be equipped with technology that enables others to access them on a per hour / per day basis, with fully automated payments. The car owner intervention will be minimal, other than servicing and maintaining the car accordingly and keeping its ‘availability calendar’ up to date on the peer to peer platform. Overall the owner will not only have a ‘free’ car of his or her own, but will also make a profit on top.
The technology to enable the shift in car ownership is already in place: hiyacar’s QuickStart. Its main advantages are the following:
- There is no key handover. The car owner doesn’t need to meet their hirer when they pick-up the car to handover the key. QuickStart cars are opened using hiyacar’s app. On this point, our owners have raved about the ‘magic’ of QuickStart: they can make money out of their cars while being abroad on holiday or wake up late while someone else uses their car. Likewise, drivers prefer to rent cars that have the technology installed, as the experience is hassle free. It’s just awesome.
- Extra security. Virtual keys are stored in the app and deleted after each booking. If there was any kind of problem (say someone tried to steal a QuickStart car), the technology allows for the engine to be remotely disabled and the doors locked once the car has come to safe stop. We also know where the car is located at all times.
- A step further: Instant Book. While as a car owner on the platform you can normally decide whether you accept or decline each booking request, we’re now introducing hiyacar Instant Book. Cars that have Instant Book enabled are labelled with a special badge that indicates that all booking requests that they receive are automatically accepted. This makes drivers more likely to book Instant Book cars, since they know they won’t have to wait for the owner to reply. QuickStart and Instant Book are a very powerful combination.
We’ve talked about the many beauties of QuickStart. However, we’re facing challenges as well. We’re installing our peer to peer car rental technology on a huge variety of cars (Volkswagen Golf, Hyundai, Alfa Romeo… you name it), which is tremendously complex and unique –I don’t know of any other peer to peer car hire platform that is doing it. If you think of car clubs like Zipcar, their technology only works with a limited number of car models. Traditional rent a car companies don’t even dream of this kind of kit. There are also so many different variants and situations we can encounter (areas with poor internet signal, low battery phones, late returns, usability aspects, just to mention a few), all of which we need to take into account.
Luckily we have great tech and community teams that are on top of any issues and feedback coming from our members; thanks to that, QuickStart is becoming incredibly robust. It is the future and present of car ownership in London — stay tuned!