One of the great things about American ingenuity is that wherever there is a need, someone will come up with an idea to meet that need. Such is the case with car-sharing. For decades now, there have been aspects of car renting that have caused many consumers to avoid the idea of renting a car for many reasons. Two of those aspects have been cost and convenience. With the advent of car-sharing, some of these obstacles have been removed.
Several years back, a few smaller car rental companies began renting cars on an hourly basis. The response was very positive because many people who were in need of a car for only an hour of two were turning to public transportation instead of renting a car for a full day. With carsharing, the cars are strategically placed throughout a community. An individual is required to apply for a membership and comply with a background check. If approved for membership, the member is granted access to these strategically placed vehicles on an as needed basis. Included in the rental cost is the use of the car plus the cost of the gas and insurance. When the member is done with the car, they drop it off at a certain location and go online to report the car as available to the next member.
In order to determine the feasibility of either option, it is important to compare and contrast different aspects of the car rental business.
If you were to compare the price of carsharing versus car renting for an entire day, carsharing would be much more expensive. However, carsharing is usually done for only a couple hours, which makes the cost less expensive than renting a car for the minimum allowable time, which is one full day.
From a convenience standpoint, carsharing is much more efficient. Each member’s information, including payment information, is already in the system. Most transactions are done on a self-serve basis using the internet or a mobile app. There is no need to stand in long line as is the case with rental car companies. As far as availability, most car rental companies have limited locations found only in major cities. Carsharing is easy to implement in smaller markets with many more car locations.
Each of these options has a niche. Car rentals are by far a better option for vacationers and those taking long range driving trips. Carsharing is best confined to short-term local driving by people such as business people or students.
There are pros and cons for each option. While carsharing is more convenient and efficient, the member has more responsibility. When they drop off a car, the car has to be clean and the gas tank full. Car rental companies take on that responsibility under a rental program. Finally, carsharing is a members-only program whereas car rentals are available to anyone with a drivers license and credit card.
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