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Living in California for 25 years of my life, I became very dependent on a car to make it from point A to point B. Then, I made the decision to move to Washington, D.C.  and I experienced a new type of transportation culture. In D.C. people do not drive they take public transportation. There was no point in me driving my car because D.C. is made up of endless one-way streets, lack of parking and extremely expensive parking garages. So I started to do my research on what could benefit me and my transportation needs.

Peer-to-Peer Car Sharing

As I started my research process I thought of ways that I could possibly benefit from my car’s presence, instead of watching it sit there everyday while I hopped on the D.C. metro. I came across peer-to-peer car sharing (P2P car sharing). The meaning of this concept is exactly how you read the term. It is the process of making your vehicle available to other drivers within your area in exchange for payment. It makes perfect sense. When you’re not using your car for an extended period of time (like myself) a person could rent their car out for others to use on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

The benefit to peer-to-peer car sharing extends to owner and the renter of the vehicle. The owner can get an additional source of income for their idle car and the renter gains access to a vehicle without the hassle of car premiums, insurance or maintenance costs. Owners can see an unlimited earning potential depending on the location, make and model of their vehicle.

One caveat to this great new program is that here in Washington, D.C. they do not have a P2P program available for the public. Below are the list of P2P companies within the US:

Although I will not be able to take advantage of this service myself in Washington, D.C., I am sure that I will very soon. It is clear that D.C. is a city where this service could be very popular. There is easy access to entry for an entrepreneur interested in starting their own peer-to-peer car sharing business, because there are so few companies in existence.
Car Sharing/Car Club Service

As I continued my research, I came across car sharing within a car club service. When you google the term “car sharing” the first few links are from the company Zipcar. Zipcar, who refers to themselves as “ambassadors of change” and “revolutionaries” started their company in Boston, Massachusetts and has expanded greatly within the last few years. They have completely redefined how people feel about transportation and urban lifestyles. Zipcar has locations in over 30 states and over 50 different cities, as well as locations in Canada and the United Kingdom. They also offer over 30 car selections to drivers within their network. They even offer hybrid vehicles that provide over 100 miles per gallon.

The most overwhelming feature is the low-cost of the rental. First, you must pay an annual fee, which ranges from $50, for occasional drivers, to $250 (this fee also includes the cost for your insurance package). You pay an application fee of $25 (one-time fee). Monday through Thursday the hourly rates are about $7.75 (depending on your location), and the daily rates start at $68. Friday through Sunday the daily rate also starts at $7.75 and the daily rate is slightly higher at $72. Gas, insurance and 180 free miles are included within this package. I really wish I had thought of this concept before I purchased my car and then moved the D.C.

Currently there is not a comprehensive list of all the car sharing companies that are fully functioning within the US, however with my research I have compiled a list for the purpose of this post. 

Popular Car Sharing Companies

Zipcar – Nationwide Locations
 – Nationwide Locations
UCarShare – Nationwide Locations
Hertz Car Sharing Club – Nationwide Locations
Car2go – Austin, TX
Buffalo Car Share– Buffalo, NY
City Car Share – San Francisco, CA
CitiWheels Car Share Club– Cleveland, OH
eGo Car Share – Denver/Boulder, CO
Car Share Vermont – Vermont
I-GO Car Share – Chicago, IL
Ithaca Car Share – Ithaca, NY
PhilliCarShare – Philadelphia, PA

*Additional list and more info on car sharing can be found at the Car Sharing Association website.

The most notable benefit to car sharing through car clubs is the result of more money in your pocket.  When you own your own car you have your car payments, cost of gas, parking, insurance, and maintenance. With car sharing you forfeit those additional expenses. The cost is spread across the multiple users that have signed up for the program. Car sharing can also create healthier lifestyles for individuals. Once people start using the car sharing services, they start to realize that they may not need their cars on a daily basis and they do their best to sell their vehicles.This will create more people walking or bicycling since they no longer own their vehicles. Besides making an overall good impression on people (remember there are over 30 vehicle styles to choose from), there will be decreased air pollution and less energy dependency.

Needless to say, after my research I still own and operate my vehicle everyday. However, everday I get closer and closer to selling my vehicle and signing up for zipcar. I can see the benefit with both peer-to peer car sharing and car clubs.

I hope this information on car sharing and the list of companies accompanying it is of value to you. If you live in an area where you are not getting much use out of your personal car you may want to look into the peer-to-peer car sharing and car club concept and see how it can help simplify your life and possibly earn you some extra cash!