Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on October 14th, 2010 at 1:07 pm
— This article was written by Portlander Steve Gutmann. He works for the Portland Sustainability Institute and formerly worked for EcoSecurities and Flexcar.
On September 29th, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation that will — for the first time — allow individuals in California to have their personal cars become car-sharing vehicles without invalidating their personal auto insurance. This legislation clears the way for “peer to peer,” (P2P) or personal vehicle car-sharing in California, and a similar effort is underway here in Oregon. This could dramatically accelerate the already rapid growth of car-sharing nationwide.
But why should you (a bike-riding audience) care?
As recently pointed out here on BikePortland, living completely carfree is rare in the US; in fact, even the most bike-centric households typically own a car. By making shared cars more common, peer to peer car-sharing could make it much easier to live without a vehicle — or with one fewer per household. And fewer cars means less congestion and more opportunities to re-allocate right of way to non-motorized vehicles.
So, what exactly is peer-to-peer car-sharing?
"By making shared cars more common, peer to peer car-sharing could make it much easier to live without a vehicle."
P2P car-sharing is a new concept being pioneered by at least three companies in the U.S.: Spride, RelayRides and Getaround It’s just like traditional car-sharing as practiced by Zipcar and dozens of other companies, but it takes the concept to a new level by allowing private vehicle owners to securely rent their vehicles to pre-screened and qualified members of the club.
For example, if you own a car or a pickup truck and don’t need it all the time, you can equip it with car-sharing electronics, post its availability on an online reservation system, and rent it out to others. As the vehicle owner, you could set the rates. The hourly rent might, for example, be $6-$12/hour (depending on the make, model, age and condition of your car). Insurance and gas are included in the rate. A certain number of miles may also be included, or they might be billed separately. So instead of your car just sitting in your driveway or at your workplace and steadily depreciating, you could earn back some revenue. Like renting out an extra bedroom. Or a vacation home.
And whereas participants’ cars will end up with marginally more wear and tear on them, their owners could potentially earn back quite a lot of money. A typical car-sharing vehicle, for example, is rented at least 5 hours/day. If you rented your vehicle out an average of 3 hours a day – that’s 1 or 2 weekends a month and a couple of weekdays each week — you’d earn over $400 per month (assuming the carsharing operator takes 20%).
Not a bad way to earn back your car payments.
Whenever you need your car, you’d simply reserve the car for yourself — either “on the fly,” or every day during the hours that you typically drive it. And if your car is already checked out and you suddenly need to take a trip, you could simply rent any other car in the network.
Because of its ability to leverage the millions of under-utilized cars already on the street, not to mention its attractiveness to the hundreds of thousands of existing car-sharing members, some think peer to peer car-sharing could significantly increase the availability, convenience and popularity of car-sharing.
What are the prospects for P2P in Oregon?
State Senator Jackie Dingfelder is already working with car-sharing consultant Dave Brook to tweak Oregon’s laws to make sure peer to peer can happen in Oregon. She expects to introduce her bill for the next session in January.
"I will introduce a bill this session that would aid in both formal and informal car sharing for those times that bike and transit-commuters need access to cars. These changes would also allow car owners who choose to bike commute to rent out their cars to neighbors and others, mitigating insurance and maintenance costs."
Since the California legislation was quite straightforward (once the insurance industry and trial lawyers understood it) things should go smoothly in Oregon. Although it’s possible that the laws in other states do not specifically prohibit peer to peer carsharing, clarifying things by specifically addressing the issue can only help to reduce confusion.
— This article was written by Portlander Steve Gutmann. He works for the Portland Sustainability Institute and formerly worked for EcoSecurities and Flexcar.Email This Post Possibly related posts