Category Archives: carsharing

GM Diversifies into Car-sharing

General Motors announced a car-sharing service called Maven on Jan 21, 2016. Initially it will be available in Ann Arbor, MI with additional cities to be added later.

Maven, a new car-sharing service by GM

Maven, a new car-sharing service by GM

Maven will be available at 21 parking lots around Ann Arbor focused around the University of Michigan. This service will compete with existing carsharing services like Zipcar and Car2Go. Zipcar is already available in Ann Arbor, with 20+ “pod” locations.

Zipcar is already available throughout Ann Arbor

Zipcar is already available throughout Ann Arbor

According to The Verge, Maven will differentiate itself from Zipcar and Car2Go by having no membership fee and a low rate of $6/hour. This compares with Zipcar’s Ann Arbor rates ranging from $5.50/hr for a Ford Fiesta to $10.50/hr for a Jeep Compass. Most of Zipcar’s Ann Arbor fleet is priced at $8.50 or $9.50 with a daily rate of $77/day.

Car2Go, while not in Ann Arbor, has a more interesting rate system: Users are encouraged to make one-way trips and can park the car on the street within a very large area of most cities. They offer a per-minute rate of $0.41/minute which automatically converts to an hourly rate of $14.99/hr and $84.99/day. While more expensive than zipcar, Car2Go’s model doesn’t require users to specify in advance how long they will be gone, and so doesn’t have any late fees or “time anxiety” associated with other reservation-based systems like ZipCar. In addition, it encourages users to minimize their travel time and make their cars available to other Car2Go users while parked – users don’t need to pay for the time a vehicle spends parked at their destination if they are willing to potentially use a different vehicle for their return trip.

Maven will be a showcase for GM’s latest technology, it will be comprised of Chevy Spark and Chevy Bolts equipped with 4G connectivity, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and SiriusXM. This emphasis on in-vehicle media should be received well by the millennial demographic that GM is going after with Maven.

All cars on Maven will have Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and SiriusXM

All cars on Maven will have Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and SiriusXM

GM is not the first car company to offer car-sharing. BMW has Drive Now, which is available in many German cities and was available in San Francisco until it shuttered in late 2015.

Audi offers an extremely high-end car-sharing service Audi On Demand in San Francisco. Users can request any Audi model to be delivered to their door from the Audi A4 at $155/day up to the R8 Spyder at $1285/day. Apart from users looking to test out a vehicle or impress someone for the day, Audi’s offering doesn’t represent a feasible mobility option for most people.

Ford is still clinging to the individual car-ownership model with their recent announcement of group leasing for private “car-sharing” among 6 friends. This still assumes user will want to own and maintain a car and that only one user at a time will want them.

Maven isn’t GM’s only recent foray into non-car-owning mobility, they recently launched “Lets Drive NYC” – a car-sharing service restricted to residents of New York’s Ritz Plaza, a 479-unit luxury apartment building at Times Square. Additionally, they acquired the remnants of failed ridesharing startup Sidecar and made a $500 million investment in Lyft.

San Francisco loses one-way carsharing: DriveNow suspends US service

Citing city regulations that don’t allow flexible on-street parking for carsharing, BMW’s DriveNow carsharing program announced today that it would suspend service in San Francisco, its only US city, on November 2, 2015.

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Parking permit regulations necessary for one-way car sharing to successfully operate still do not exist. Until the current regulations are amended, we must suspend service in the San Francisco Bay Area. We fully expect to return once the city reforms its parking policies to allow for one-way car sharing. We will continue to work with the city of San Francisco toward achieving that goal.

DriveNow is a carsharing program run by BMW. Its distinctive features were that it allowed one-way rentals and it users could leave cars in on-street parking spaces in certain neighborhoods in San Francisco. The initial neighborhoods with on street parking were the Mission, Bernal Heights, Potrero Hill, Noe Valley and the Haight.

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DriveNow also had locations around the Bay Area, including Oakland Airport, SFO Airport, Mountain View and San Jose. This enabled longer distance one way trips than other carsharing agencies supported. Zipcar and Citycarshare’s locations are limited to San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley. It was convenient to be able to use transit in one direction and have the option for one-way carsharing in return, even for long distance trips such as the 50 miles between San Francisco and San Jose. I used it to drive to events in Mountain View where I knew I could get a ride back to San Francisco from a fellow attendee.

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Unlike cities such as Minneapolis and Portland that have Car2Go, San Francisco doesn’t allow carsharing to companies to use on-street parking spaces and be exempt from street sweeping restrictions. This meant that DriveNow needed to keep track of where its cars were parked, the parking restrictions on every block and send an employee to move them whenever a street sweeping event or parking restriction came up.

DriveNow also differentiated itself from CityCarshare and Zipcar by not requiring users to reserve the car for a specific block of time. Instead, a user could just drive any car and return it whenever they wanted while being billed just for the minutes that they used. DriveNow had a per minute rate as well as a daily rate for longer trips. This removed the time anxiety that some carshare users feel when they need to determine in advance long they will need a vehicle.

DriveNow claims that will start operations in a different American city with more carsharing friendly parking regulations.

While we are disappointed to be leaving the Bay Area, we are excited about new prospective cities who are welcoming car sharing in their communities and offering the parking permits necessary to operate one way flexible car sharing.

Cities that already support Car2Go may be a possiblity for DriveNow – including Austin, Denver, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, Portland, San Diego, Seattle, and DC.

BMW including carsharing access with vehicle purchase to encourage small electric vehicle sales

bmw-carsharingLast week, BMW announced a new program to help bolster the sales of its electric vehicles: the ability to bundle carsharing access with the purchase of a vehicle. This was along with the unveiling of their first mass-production electric car, the i3.

Most drivers use their car for solo driving with limited range (less than 150 miles) most days of the year. However, they purchase vehicles based on their estimated “peak” usage: things like driving guests around, road trips to Tahoe, hauling furniture. These peak uses likely only occur a few times per year, the rest of the time their driving profile fits perfectly with what an electric vehicle supplies.

These peak uses give people range anxiety and space anxiety – however with the addition of easy-to-use carsharing vehicle owners can “right-size” their vehicles for most of the trips while still having access to higher capacity vehicles (SUVs) when they need them.

This program has the potential to introduce carsharing to many people who haven’t considered it in the past. Its possible that some of them may find carsharing so convenient that they give up on vehicle ownership entirely and switch to carsharing (plus transit, biking and walking) for 100% of their trips.

Its also possible that other car companies will start to offer carsharing options to compete with BMW. More carsharing options exposes more people to the ability to carshare, and will likely reduce vehicle ownership, VMT or at least allow people to “right size” their vehicle purchases. As the Atlantic pointed out, there is no reason why a car dealership or car company couldn’t start bundling Zipcar memberships right now in cities where carsharing options already exist.

BMW already has experience operating carsharing services. Their Drive Now carsharing services are available throughout Germany and expanded last year to San Francisco. The Drive Now service operates like Zipcar, but allows one-way trips and has airport locations as well, all while driving a BMW.

Pricing for BMW’s carsharing add-on has yet to be announced.

Peer-to-peer carsharing lands at Boston Logan Airport: Flightcar opens second location

flightcar-bostonFlightcar launched support for its second airport today at Boston Logan. Flightcar is a peer-to-peer carsharing company focused around airports.

Car owners can list their car on flightcar and in return get free parking while away, a car wash and pickup/dropoff service curbside at the airport. Renters can rent cars from flightcar and be picked up at the airport. The cars available for rental are more varied and potentially nicer than those available from traditional rental agencies. Its a win-win. This video explains a bit more about how Flightcar works:

Flightcar has been operating at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) since February and has listed about 650 cars and had 1000 reservations. Now, San Francisco residents who leave their cars with flightcar while traveling to boston can rent a flightcar on the other end, effectively enabling carswapping.

With flightcar expanding and Zipcar launching some airport locations, the options for airport-based carsharing are really expanding.

SFMTA to allow designated on-street parking for peer-to-peer carsharing vehicles

SFMTA released a draft of its Car Sharing Policy and Pilot Project. They are announcing a pilot project to allocate some on-street parking spaced to carsharing and peer-to-peer carsharing vehicles in San Francisco. Peer-to-peer carsharing vehicles are cars owned by individuals that are available for the general public to use via services like GetAround and Relay Rides.

The pilot will allocate up to 150 spaces (0.05% of the total on-street spaces in San Francisco) to carsharing. Only two spaces per block at most will be allocated.

In order for peer-to-peer cars to be included, they must be available for use by the general public 75% of the time. How this is enforced or monitored is not indicated.


On-street carsharing Zones

Additionally, carsharing organizations must allocate a minimum percentage of cars to the less-dense areas of San Francisco. These ares are typically poorly served by traditional carsharing companies (City CarShare and Zipcar) as they have less density, higher car ownership rates and thus less demand for carsharing. A minimum of 15% of spaces must be allocated to Zone 2 and 15% to Zone 3.

Zone 2 includes the dense, carsharing friendly Upper Haight, which is where I expect all of the required Zone 2 spaces to be allocated. Zone 3 may see the required cars being allocated near SF State or possibly along the edge in the Inner Sunset.

The plan requires carsharing organizations to do community outreach to recruit new embers, provide a summary of the outreach and to provide data on usage to SFMTA.

The full draft:

Peer-to-peer Carsharing Illegal in New York State?

ny_hates_carsharingPeer-to-peer carsharing may be illegal in New York State according to the Department of Financial Services. They issued Relay Rides a cease-and-desist letter last week after which the company suspended all carsharing in the entire state of New York.

Innovation, by its nature, does not always fit within existing structures. Although we’ve been careful to ensure the protections offered to our member community comply with legal frameworks around the country, we learned in conversations with the NY Department of Financial Services that it believes there is noncompliance with certain unique aspects of NY insurance law.

Relay Rides website now announces “RelayRides has car rentals across the country, except New York.”

Pando Daily suggests that this may not have much chilling effect on the industry: Relay Rides is still going strong in California, Massachussets, Pennsylvania, DC, Georgia, Washington, Oregon, Illinois, Colorado and Texas and more. Just last week, they acquired rival peer-to-peer carsharing company Wheelz. Getaround, the other major peer-to-peer car rental company, does not offer service in New York state and so isn’t affected by this issue. Peer-to-peer carsharing will continue to grow, but New York will be missing out on innovative transportation options. Startups in the transportation space may look elsewhere when considering where to locate.

Peer-to-peer car rental consolidates: Relay Rides aqcuires Wheelz

relayrides-wheelzRelay Rides announced today that they will acquire Wheelz, a competing peer-to-peer carsharing company. Wheelz was the smallest of the three peer-to-peer carsharing companies in the Bay Area with about 50 total vehicles for use in the Bay Area, compared to Relay Ride’s approximately 300 vehicles and 800 available on GetAround. FlightCar offers peer-to-peer carsharing at the airport and its fleet of vehicles changes continuously.

The big gain for RelayRides appears to be in acquiring Wheelz’s “DriveBox” technology, which enables a renter to unlock a vehicle using a smartphone, so renters and car owners don’t have to meet in person to hand off the keys.

read more on Pando Daily »

Carsharing using Teslas (and Coptersharing) coming to Las Vegas

Project100The Las Vegas Downtown project recently announced the purchase of 100 Teslas to kickstart their new transportation program: Project 100.  They are aiming to build a transportation around Downtown Las Vegas to encourage people to forgo car ownership.

Project 100 will include carsharing with Teslas and low range electrical vehicles, bikesharing, on-demand rides, party busses and potentially helicopters.  The program is unique in that it will offer access to multiple modes of transportation with one membership.  Their goal is to attract people to the downtown community and offer a service which exceeds the utility of car ownership at the same price.  The exact membership and pricing structure hasn’t been determined but it will be interesting to watch the project and see what types of innovative and crazy transportation options they come up with.

Carsharing at the Airport: Zipcar lands at JFK, La Guardia and Newark

zipcar-airportZipcar jumped into the airport transportation business yesterday announcing cars located at New York airports (JFK, Newark and LaGuardia).  The cars are located at lots that have frequent rental shuttles to them.  Unlike traditional rental cars however, once you arrive at the lot there is no need to wait in line, fill out paperwork or puzzle over insurance and gas offers.  This is a substantial improvement over the traditional airport car rental situation.

Zipcar requires roundtrip rentals, so this means that airport Zipcars are only suitable for short trips.  For someone visiting New York for a weekend (and needing a car) it may be a perfect option.  Currently, Zipcar offers small sedans (Nissan Sentra, Honda Civic) at $12/hour or $89/day.

San Francisco already has two airport carsharing options – DriveNow and FlightCar.  DriveNow allows one-way car trips from Oakland or SFO airport to locations downtown SF, Palo Alto and Mountain View using electric BMWs.  This allows for more flexibility than Zipcar’s roundtrip requirement as you don’t have to pay for the car once you’ve arrived at your destination.  FlightCar is a peer-to-peer car sharing service that  currently serves SFO.  Like other peer-to-peer carsharing services, it offers a wide variety of vehicle types and will pick you up curbside.  FlightCar’s pricing is less than traditional car rental companies, and it allows you to skip the lines and paperwork associated with airport car rental.

Zipcar’s move to offer airport carsharing locations is one of the first noticeable changes to its service since being acquired by Avis.  The airport lots where Zipcars are parked are Avis car rental locations.


Airport based peer-to-peer carsharing arrives: FlightCar

flightcar-logoInstead of paying to park your car at the airport, you can now rent your car to another traveler and get it delivered back to your on your return professionally cleaned, gassed up and get a free gas card. Startup FlightCar launched today at San Francisco International Airport (SFO).

On the flip side, you can rent someone elses car for substantially less than traditional rental rates and have the car delivered to your at the airport on arrival, skipping the shuttles, lines and paperwork associated with renting a car.

FlightCar manages the pickup, storage, delivery and cleaning of the vehicle both before a renter receives the car and after the rental is complete. Both the owner and renter get picked up and can drop the car off curbside to a FlightCar valet. FlightCar also has insurance lined up to protect the owners car, in much the same way peer-to-peer carsharing companies Getaround, Relay Rides and Wheelz handle this. This video explains FlightCar with some nice illustrations.

FlightCar currently supports one airport (SFO) and a quick search on their site revealed several cars available for rent next week ranging from $28-$41 day. FlightCar says that the cheapest cars will be available for $13/day. These prices are inclusive of taxes, fees and insurance, so they represent real savings over traditional car rental agencies. My searches also revealed a wider variety of vehicles than normally available through car rental agencies including several Mini-vans. Higher capacity vehicles like minivans are normally much more expensive to rent than normal sedans at traditional car rental agencies.


FlightCar rentals are limited to 90 miles per day (averaged across the entire rental) so they won’t work out as well for cross-country adventures. Additional miles are $0.35/mile. Additional drivers can be added for $10/each. Renters pay for gas and are expected to bring back vehicles with the same amount of fuel as when they started.

Interestingly, renters between 18-25 can rent FlightCars with no additional charge, as long as the vehicles value is under $40,000. This is a major win for younger renters who are generally excluded or charged extremely high surcharges at traditional car rental places.

Flightcar raised $570,000 in seed funding and is part of YCombinator. Their disruptive startup has a lot of potential, but may hit snags with regulation or get in fights with entrenched airport ground transportation interests. Ensuring that all transactions with travelers who may be in a rush go smoothly is important (although traditional car rental companies are not always known for making smooth or efficient transactions). Ensuring enough staff to pickup, dropoff, park and clean cars may be a challenge at peak times or when travelers schedules or flight plans change.