To say that car sharing is on the up is an understatement — particularly in larger cities (such as London, where you’re charged just for using your car) the trend is booming, but many people are still unsure about what it actually is and how it works. Well, allow us to explain.
What is car sharing?
Upon hearing the term “car sharing” — first thought might be that two or more people are sharing one car to reduce costs on a journey. However, the term ‘car share’ more recently refers to paying to use a car that is owned by someone else while they’re not using it.
Confused? Well, it’s much like a rental car service in that you borrow a car for a certain amount of time and pay for the privilege. However, there are a few very convenient differences. There are typically two types of car-sharing platforms here in the UK. There are the ones that have their own fleets. So, essentially, the car-share provider owns a fleet of cars that it rents out to people and there are the peer-to-peer platforms, such as ourselves, that allows private owners to rent out their cars to other people while they’re not using it. There’s also, although much less prominent, local car clubs that offer the car share of local vehicles in your area. Naturally, rates and memberships differ between each, as do the cars on offer.
What is car sharing and how does it work?
It’s simple. All you have to do is sign up for the service and locate the closest available car to you via the website or dedicated app. Once you’re at the vehicle, you’ll either use your phone to unlock it (using ‘virtual key’ technology) or by picking the keys up from the owner. Cars are available to hire by the hour or by the day — think much in the way Boris Bikes work.
Using a dedicated car-sharing platform like hiyacar cuts out the middle man and the need to travel to dedicated rental offices that are restricted when it comes to office hours. The benefits of renting a car via a car-sharing platform as opposed to a typical rental company are substantial:
More easily accessible vehicles — A large database of local vehicles is on offer and is available any time of the day or night. No ‘office hours’ restriction.
Flexibility — again, all on your terms; find the car you want, book it for your required time and walk or take a short journey to your awaiting vehicle.
Convenience — particularly for those looking to rent a car for a short period of time, say for just a few hours; book your closest available car, pick it up using the remote key function or by picking up the keys, take the care for your allotted time and bring it back. Simple as that.
The service isn’t just for those that live in cities, either. It’s for anyone that doesn’t own a car or perhaps uses a car every so often and so uses the service to eliminate all the costs that come with car ownership.
There are also the people that travel to a city that just want a car for the day; whether that’s something specific or whether it’s a car that’s very conveniently situated to their current location. Just maybe it’s lovely weather and you’re hankering after a convertible for your weekend away — the car of your choosing could be parked ready and waiting for you to collect!
It’s not really a case of how does car sharing work, it’s how it can work for you. The car share service that’s right for you will depend on a number of things, whether you’re after a specific car (whether that’s looks, efficiency, practicality etc), distance (how close available cars are) and cost (rates are usually measured in hours, days, and/or miles). Car share vehicles come insured, however, you can take insurance and damage cover out via the platform.
How does car sharing help the environment?
As car-sharing reduces the need for each individual to have their own car, it’s going to be beneficial to the environment. If it is that car-sharing encourages drivers to just borrow a car when they need it as opposed to putting their own car on the road, this will inevitably reduce traffic on the roads. Car sharing reduces the need for unnecessary trips — that mentality of “well I’m paying for this car, I may as well use it to just go down to the local shop” — car-sharing punters tend to cycle or walk more, for this reason, and only opt for car-sharing when they ‘need’ a car. So that’s already fewer cars on the road. Car sharing providers will also have a lot of recent models available that adhere to emission laws, as well as the availability of the many electric and hybrid vehicles that are now on offer — all of which will have been maintained to a high standard.