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Wednesday, 14 March 2018 | MYT 11:00 AM

What to know about private car sharing, the new peer economy trend

Do you still drive your own car, or are you ready to share? Plenty of car owners these days are asking themselves this very question.

With platforms such as Car2Go and DriveNow having brought the idea of carsharing to the mainstream, the number of companies entering this expanding market sector is growing quickly.

But a new trend in carsharing has emerged, with some platforms offering car owners the chance to rent out their vehicles to strangers. Here are a few of the most common questions and answers about this growing market.

What is the idea is behind private car sharing?

On average, cars are not in use for 23 hours each day, explains Andre Haddad, CEO of US-based platform Turo. Services like his help optimise the potential of private vehicles. “It's a flexible mobility solution for travellers, giving car owners a valuable tool to offset the cost of their vehicles,” says Haddad.

How does the rental and handover work?

Rentals are usually arranged via app or website. At Turo, for example, renters can not only choose the location and date of the rental car, but even the car’s brand, model and colour. If the booking request is accepted by the car owner, the two can meet for the key and car handover.

Here, the car owner can check the authenticity of the renter’s license, while both parties can check the odometer, fuel gauge and any pre-existing damage while taking photos. When the car is returned, and once all these details have been checked again, the payment is made via services such as Paypal, and the receipt can be downloaded from the website.

Sounds a bit elaborate, doesn't it?

Susanne Kreusch certainly thinks so. Kreusch was among the first members of the now-discontinued peer-to-peer service CarUnity, which was run by carmaker Opel, and rented out her BMW to strangers on several occasions. However, she always had to arrange a personal meeting to hand over the keys, which made the service much less flexible.

However, this is gradually changing. Just as you can open Car2Go and DriveNow cars without a key in hand, private car owners will soon be able to retrofit their cars with similar functions. Smart and Mini, for example, have reported developing just such products, which they say will go on sale in the near future.

Another private car rental platform, Drivy, offers car owners the opportunity to have a technology called Drive Open built into their cars. This lets other people open the vehicles by smartphone, which means the renter and owner will no longer necessarily have to meet in person for the key and car handover.

How do I find a free car?

The platforms’ websites or apps can be used to search for free cars in the user’s vicinity. With Turo, owners can also offer to deliver their car at an additional cost, such as to the nearest airport.

What does it usually cost and what sorts of pricing structures are there?

Depending on the provider, car rentals are charged by the hour or per day, and often cost less than US$60 (RM234) per day. Cars rented through Drivy, for example, have an average price of US$35 (RM136) a day plus fuel costs.

How does insurance work?

The platforms Turo, Drivy and Snappcar all work with the insurance company Allianz. The car owner must take out additional insurance, which includes liability and own-damage claims. The car’s primary insurance remains unaffected. The renter can then choose between several insurance packages with different deductibles. — dpa