Today FlightCar launched a full-service peer-to-peer carsharing option for car owners who don’t need their cars more than 4 days per month.
FlightCar Monthly offers car owners a guaranteed payment between $150 and $400/month, regardless of if their car is rented. Its a full-service program: car owners don’t need to do anything between rentals or deal with other drivers, FlightCar handles that. FlightCar offers free vehicle pickup, monthly auto-renewal, $1 million in insurance, town car service, and a car wash. Owners can use their car up to 4 days per month completely free. Accessing your can required a BART or CalTrain ride to SFO/Millbrae where FlightCar will meet you with a towncar, or alternatively, they will drive the car to your house for a $20 fee.
FlightCar Monthly is currently in beta. There are no signup fees, but all vehicles must be approved. It is available in both Boston and San Francisco. Mileage is limited to 1200 miles/month, with every additional mile being reimbursed at $0.35/mile.
This service will be useful for car owners going on long trips or who spend only part of their time in the Bay Area or Boston and don’t want the hassle of storing their car while gone (and would like to actually earn income on their vehicle). For those with shorter trips, Flight Car’s traditional service is still available.
Peer-to-peer car-sharing company FlightCar has a nifty business model: combine the need for airport parking and airport car rental into a company the facilitates the sharing of resources. I’ve written about them a few times. The basics: Car owners get free airport parking, a car cleaning and a gas card, while visitors get inexpensive car rental and a wide array of vehicle types to choose from.
Last month, the City of San Francisco and the San Francisco International Airport formally filed a complaint against FlightCar in court. They want FlightCar to pay as if they were an airport car rental company, and are seeking 11.1 percent of FlightCar’s profits and $20 per rental. FlightCar currently uses a contract limo service to deliver car owners and renters to and from the airport which requires them to pay $3.65 per trip to the airport. A single rental requires four trips: 2 pick ups and 2 drop offs, so every rental results in $14.60 in payments to the airport.
This move by the City of San Francisco and SFO signals to other startups that they are not interested in innovative solutions to transportation and infrastructure problems. Its important that the Bay Area continue to be the location where new technology is launched and incubated, and not seen as over-regulated or a place where outdated regulations are enforced to prop up existing business models.
For many car-owners and car-renters, FlightCar will be the first time they use a car-sharing service. Car-sharing has been shown to reduce vehicle miles traveled and car ownership because it makes not owning a car a more convenient option. Exposing more people to car-sharing will likely lead to increased use of car-sharing.
This isn’t the first time a new transportation technology has faced legal challenges, and FlightCar will likely find other legal issues as they expand to additional airports.
The full complaint against FlightCar is below:
2013-05-31 – Complaint for Injunctive and Other Relief
Flightcar 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 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 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.