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Could peer-to-peer car sharing be coming of age? The nascent business model got a huge shot in the arm today, in the form of $13.7 million of funding for Wheelz, a car sharing program based on college campuses. Zipcar, of course, is the 800-pound gorilla of the car sharing ecosystem, operating in three countries and boasting nearly 700,000 clients. Perhaps equally important is that among those bankrolling Wheelz is Fontinalis Partners, a Detroit-based investment firm founded by Bill Ford, Executive Chairman of Ford Motor Company.

Traditional car sharing programs like those run by Zipcar (which has a partnership with Ford) have customers signing up for the service in advance and then borrowing an unused vehicle from a fleet owned by the company. The loans are usually short-term, and billed by the hour, unlike car rental agencies, which rent cars by the day or week. Peer-to-peer service, however, allows people to rent their personal vehicles to others when they’re not using them. It’s a proverbial win-win, with car owners earning extra money, while renters have a much greater pool of different vehicles to choose from. Renting a car from a complete stranger might sound like a potentially complicated situation, but that’s where the peer-to-peer services come in, vetting the transactions and dealing with the details, like insurance, reservation systems and vehicle access.

Wheelz is currently operating only at Stanford University, though its website indicates plans to expand to the nearby University of California at Berkeley, as well as the University of California at Los Angeles and the University of Southern California.

Read the entire article at: Autobloggreen

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