Would you lend your car to a stranger?
Realizing that car ownership is no longer a cost-effective means of transportation, more urban drivers are looking at car-sharing services that allow you to rent cars by the day, or even the hour.
Car sharing usually involves joining an organization like Zipcar that owns a fleet of vehicles scattered throughout the city. Members pick up cars from various locations across town and return them to the same spot when they're done – all for a set hourly rate.
Think ZipCar minus the communal cars, and you've got RelayRides, a new Google-backed start-up.
Once you sign up as a supplier, RelayRides then installs a car-sharing GPS device made by Car2Go, whose technology immobilizes the engine until it’s accessed by the reservation holder.
Initially, RelayRides plans to offer lower hourly rental fees than Zipcar (which would similarly include gas and insurance), but ultimately the plan is to let owners set their own price after choosing the day and time of the week of availability.
After registering online and obtaining driving record approval, successful applicants receive membership information and access to reserve a nearby car for either a few hours or a few days.
Owners can make $250 a month on average renting out their vehicles, and that figure should rise as RelayRides attracts more users, CEO Shelby Clark told Bloomberg.
Right now, the owner gets 65 per cent of the total rental fee, with RelayRides taking a 15 per cent cut. The other 20 per cent goes toward a hefty insurance policy — just in case your neighbour crashes your car into a tree.
The owner is still responsible for maintaining, cleaning and taking care of the car, however.
Would you lend your car to a stranger to make a few bucks? How much would it take to make it all worthwhile?
By Gordon Powers, MSN Money