What’s the biggest inefficiency when it comes to car sharing programs?
I’d say — and I’m happy to be corrected here — that it’s the necessity of creating a whole other “fleet” of shared cars, parked in a centralized location, that you have to go and actually retrieve every time you need to drive.
The centralized location solution has been partially solved by car-sharing programs that leave cars throughout the city, but knowing exactly where those cars are requires an elaborate amount of technological overhead. Some companies are doing a great job at it, but — isn’t there a better way?
Share the Cars That Are Already Out There
It’s a revolutionary idea — instead of having to go and seek out a specially designated car sharing vehicle, why not tap into all the cars that are already there, next to you? Yeah, that’s right — I’m even talking about your neighbour’s car here.
By agreeing to open your car up to a sharing program, it means your purchase of a vehicle could help out a lot of people who might otherwise have to buy a car. Or, if you pay for a program that lets you borrow the car down the street, you’ll have a much easier time getting a shared car when you actually need one.
Fixing That Big Inefficiency
That’s been one of the major problems about traditional modes of car-sharing — while they’ve been great, and are absolute godsends for urban-dwelling people who really don’t want a car but occasionally need to do something that just cannot be done rationally by public transit (say, a small delivery, impossible by subway but overkill for a delivery truck), the time issue if you’re far from a designated pick-up point, or if the car you need is out of the lot — this can be a dealbreaker for some people. There are just certain times when you need a car quickly.
So what was the traditional solution there? Bother your friend, of course — hit them up for a quick ride, or, if they trusted you, borrow the car for a bit.
That’s All Well And Good, But Aren’t There Some Big “Ifs”?
Sure — I could name 3 right now:
- Having to maintain your car like it’s a rental: you can’t be borrowing someone’s car that has 3 weeks of McDonalds wrappers in it. Maintenance standards have got to be enforced, and it’ll be a bit tricky when you’ve got to call the company and tell them your neighbour hasn’t been taking care of his open-to-others vehicle.
- Saturation: if someone borrows your car and you suddenly need it, you better hope there’s someone else in the neighborhood participating in the program, or you’re going to be cursing the day you ever signed up.
- Insurance: here’s the big issue. California recently passed a huge vote that makes car sharing one step closer to reality, but as insurance laws vary by state, province, country, and so on — this could be a pretty long road to acceptance.
Still, it’s a wonderful idea — one of those great “duh” examples that takes advantage of a huge, untapped resource right in front of our eyes, with just enough utopian, everyone-together idealism to make you feel good, too.