The world is at a crossroads. While the rising influence from China and India have strengthened the car industry, the amount of cars on the roads is becoming undeniable large. Indeed, individuals have long turned to renting and leasing in order to avoid the cumbersome burden of owning a vehicle. However, a new methodology is slowly growing from an unlikely source, giving us the power to alter the way we travel forever.
General Motors Vice President Steve Grisky has recently told Time magazine reporter Anita Hamilton that the company has begun a round of funding for a rather little known company called RelayRides. Providing them with nearly $3 million (£1.8 million), the company is spearheading a program of peer-to-peer car-sharing services across the United States.
Rather surprisingly, what emerges from this relationship is a daunting contradiction: Why exactly would GM offer funding to a company that directly competes with them? Indeed, the carmakers purpose is to ensure the sale of their vehicles. However, as the company has noted, what truly matters is that individuals are driving HM vehicles regardless of whether they own them or not.
However, it should be noted that this type of service is certainly not new. Car-sharing services like Zipcar have been utilising a fleet of nearly 9,500 vehicles to perform a similar task. What RelayRides as well as another company called JustShareIt are doing is allowing individuals like you and me to rent out their own leased or own vehicles to other individuals.
Not only a providing a financial boost, GM will be pairing their smartphone capabilities with the OnStar system. According to analysts, this function will ease the ability locate cars in the local community, ultimately strengthening this company considerably.
Unsurprisingly, it was a Harvard Business School graduate Shelby Clark who came up with this scheme in 2008. He initially came up with the idea when he had to bike nearly 3 miles in bad weather. He saw many cars parked on the roads and thought that they could be put to better use. Now a thriving company, it looks like the brilliant mind came up with quite an intriguing idea.
With a pool of over 250 million vehicles in the US, the UK may initially have a difficult time applying such a scheme. While it certainly isn’t inconceivable, it won’t be replacing leasing and car dealerships anytime soon. For many individuals, such a scheme ultimately involves an uncomfortable level of trust that can be broken rather easily. While its future remains clouded, the idea is nonetheless incredibly innovative.