My car sits unused for 23 out of 24 hours most days. Apparently mine isn’t the only one sitting idle, with most cars used on average for only one and a half hours per day. In an ideal world we’d happily share our idle cars, perhaps even making a little money doing so, so that others could get by without owning a car. This idealistic dream may soon be a reality.
I spotted a car with a ‘Car Next Door’ sticker on it during a recent trip to Sydney. Intrigued, I looked up their website and discovered an exciting new collaborative consumption project.
Car Next Door lets people share cars with their neighbours for the mutual benefit of both. The car owner makes a little extra cash, offsetting the costs of their car and the borrower has access to a car that would otherwise be sitting idle. The benefits extend beyond the owner and the borrower – with each car in the project keeping an average of eight other cars off the road.
The project was founded by Will Davies, a long time car-share member. Will realised it would be much easier to borrow one of the dozens of cars parked near his home, sitting doing nothing – rather than walk to his nearest share car, about half a kilometre away. He started Car Next Door so that he and others could do just that – borrow a neighbours car.
The idea of renting out my car appealed – but then I wondered about the practicalities and risks. What would stop someone from stealing my car? What if a borrower crashed my car? It seems Car Next Door has all bases covered. If you sign up as a car owner, they install a GPS tracking system and immobiliser in your car – delightfully named Fred. Fred enables keyless access to your car when a booking is made, so you don’t have worry about meeting borrowers to hand over keys, and he also ensures that your car is incredibly hard to steal. Fred apparently can even detect and dob-in reckless drivers. But if a driver does crash your car you are covered by a fleet insurance policy.
Car Next Door is currently being piloted in Sydney – but they plan to expand the platform throughout Australia. To find out more or register your interest visit carnextdoor.com.au.
(Originally published in the Newcastle Herald 15th June 2013).