Peer-to-peer vehicle sharing arrives

| Print |  Email
Linda Baker
Wednesday, December 21, 2011

BY LINDA BAKER

Our 1996 Volvo Sedan isn’t pretty.  Fossilized imprints of peanut butter and other assorted sandwiches dot the floor, while the seat cushions are so worn down, passengers risk inhaling bits of foam on every trip.

Things have languished thus for a while. But after talking to John Atcheson, vice president of Getaround, the San Francisco-based “peer-to-peer” carsharing startup, I’m thinking it might be time to spruce up ye olde family auto.

In February, with the help of a $1.7 million federal grant, Getaround will debut personal car sharing in Portland. The service will allow everyday vehicle owners to rent out their cars—to friends, neighbors or complete strangers. To facilitate the new business model, Gov. John Kitzhaber signed a bill last summer changing insurance rules so that auto owners can charge people for using their cars without being held liable for accidents.

Most personal vehicles are parked about 90 percent of the time and an increasing number of city residents are abandoning car ownership. Leveraging information technology and social media, Getaround connects the people with underused cars with the renters needing a car.  The company is also one of a growing number of businesses targeting  “collaborative consumption” — sharing, trading or renting access to a product as opposed to individual ownership. 

“The idea that everyone has to own their own thing, whether it’s a lawn mower or custom processing equipment — all these things are just waiting for exploitation by business,” says Atcheson. Companies can either facilitate collaborative consumption or take “idle assets of any kind and put those assets into the market,” he says.

Getaround, which a few months ago raised $3.4 million from investors such as Redpoint Ventures and TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington, is in the facilitating business. The company supports personal car sharing by “making entrepreneurs out of every car owner,” says Atcheson. Since the company launched in several cities last spring, about 6,000 registered car owners have signed up for the service, mostly in the San Francisco Bay Area. 
Getaround_App_-_Car_Profile_2
A quick look at the Getaround website, where renters and vehicle owners meet, reveals a Prius going for $7.50 an hour, a Honda Accord for $7 and a BMW for $15. According to Atcheson, top earners are making $1,000 a month; the average is $300.

In Atcheson’s view, Getaround’s competition isn’t so much traditional car sharing companies such as Zipcar as “the prevailing mindset” that a car represents personal identity or freedom. The people who are most successful at personal car sharing have abandoned that attitude, and instead “view their cars potentially as a business operation,"he says.

That kind of logic fuels existing collaborative consumption models--craigslist and eBay in particular. Next generation companies such as Getaround go one step further, and suggest an intriguing reset regarding the relationship between consumption and business growth; by reducing the number of products in circulation, opportunities to generate income from those products actually increase. 

As for me, the idea that someone might extract use value from our Volvo is intriguing indeed. Getaround boasts a sophisticated fraud detection and rating system that alerts renters to the condition of the car, Atcheson cautions.  Rule No. 1: “You have to keep the car clean,” he says.

Linda Baker is managing editor of Oregon Business.

 

Comments   

 
Emilie
0 #1 Another Great P2P CompanyEmilie 2012-01-01 15:43:27
Great article! Collaborative consumption is such a win-win for all involved. Renters save money and owners make money, plus the environment wins as well. I work for a startup Fun2Rent.com, which connects owners and renters of powersports and recreational vehicles. The peer-to-peer rental industry is growing so quickly. Now, you can not only rent a car, but an ATV, jet ski, or snowmobile!
Quote | Report to administrator
 

More Articles

Beneath the Surface

May 2015
Thursday, April 23, 2015
0515-goodhacker01 250pxwBY LINDA BAKER

On April 1 I attended a forum at the University of Portland on the sharing economy. The event featured panelists from Lyft and Airbnb, as well as Portland Mayor Charlie Hales. Asked about the impact of tech-driven sharing economy services. Hales said the new business models are reshaping the landscape. “But,” he added, “I don’t pretend to understand how a lot of this [technology] works.” 


Read more...

Banking Perspective

April 2015
Thursday, March 26, 2015
BY KIM MOORE

A conversation with Craig Wanichek, president and CEO of Summit Bank.


Read more...

Bike Chic: 7 stylish options for cyclists

April 2015
Thursday, March 26, 2015

Cycling to work is all the rage. But not everyone wants to arrive at the office messy, sweaty — and unfashionable.


Read more...

5 questions for inDinero CEO Jessica Mah

The Latest
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
jessicathumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

inDinero, a business that manages back-office accounting for startups and smaller companies, recently announced it would relocate its headquarters from San Francisco to Portland. We talked to CEO Jessica Mah about what drew her to Portland and how she plans to disrupt the traditional CPA model.


Read more...

Beyond Bodegas

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Five years in the making, the Portland Mercado — the city’s first Latino public market — will celebrate its grand opening April 11. A $3.5 million public-private partnership spearheaded by Hacienda CDC, the market will house 15 to 20 businesses in the food, retail and service sectors. It has some big-name funders, including the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation and JPMorgan Chase. The project goals are equally ambitious: to improve cross-cultural understanding, alleviate poverty and spur community economic development. 


Read more...

Emperor of the Sea

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY COURTNEY SHERWOOD | Photos by Jason E. Kaplan

Pacific Seafood, one of the world’s largest processors, is rebranding as a more transparent and consumer-friendly operation. A controversial CEO and monopoly accusations from coastal fishermen complicate the tale.


Read more...

Oregon Business expands events portfolio

The Latest
Friday, March 27, 2015
htctfacebookBY OB STAFF

New events series brings magazine to life.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS