Traditionally the idea of sharing a car with someone is not something most people would consider, in fact most people would run a mile from it. The next step in car sharing offered by the like of CityCar in Brighton meant you could book a car ahead of time, then pick up the keys, drive it for a day then park it back in a certain space. This is certainly better and some people find it very useful but the new wave of car sharing is about to make that idea feel like something from the 80s.
There are specific providers and tests going on at the moment with new car sharing ideas and the general theme is one of flexibility. Each member of these clubs has a credit card style key card which allows them to swipe somewhere on the car and it unlocks. This means there is no issue of picking up keys, you can just use your own one no matter what the car is. The other main factor here is that the clubs are set up with multiple cars that can be left in pretty much any public parking bay in the designated council’s area. This means you are never too far from one and the smart phone app allows you to easily locate you nearest one.
There are a number of schemes popping up, one is called DriveNow and it is being trailed in London. The Scheme is a partnership between Sixt and BMW and offers members the choice from a fleet of over 200 cars. The cars are used by members and left in public parking spaces within the Borough of Hackney and some surrounding areas. Members pay around 39p per minute but this covers everything from parking charges to insurance and fuel. For many people this means they don’t need a second car, when they need some extra wheels they just use to app to locate a nearby car and jump in. The only downside is that you have to pay for parking outside of the designated areas as the owners of the scheme have not yet done a deal with other councils.
Ford are also involved in this revolution and have a launched a scheme called GoDrive. It is currently only a pilot scheme with 50 cars but rather than using council parking bays Ford are offering specific off street parking for members, it may mean you have to walk a little further to find a car but it will mean you can always find a space.
Both of these schemes use a variety of cars and they are normal cars, the idea that car shares can only involve a G Whizz is thankfully one of the past.
Whether or not the schemes will become normal for everyone remains to be seen, it seems unlikely, however for people in cities they do seem to offer a great way of having a car to use without owning one. For most people having their own car is not just a matter of utility, it is something they enjoy and love. There is also the issue of keeping the cars clean, but with digital tracking showing who has what car and what time it should be easy to find out who left all their rubbish in the car before you. These schemes may be the future for some people and may always be something to be avoided for others, but there is no doubt the technology involved does make the old car share schemes seem rather dated.