By offering car owners and passengers a cheap way to travel, Liftshare already caters to a wide range of transport needs within the sharing economy. But what about those looking to rent a car?
Enter easyCarClub: a free site that car and van owners a platform to hire out their vehicle to other members for a fee. It’s ideal for those looking to hire a car during a holiday in the UK, or for those looking to haul goods across town – think people moving flat and you’re on the right track. The site went national after a successful trial period in February this year, and now boasts over 1,000 registered vehicles and over 100,000 rental hours logged.
Following on from our sharing economy interview with Neighborgoods, we thought we’d drop the easyCarClub team a line to chat about who they are, what they do, and in what ways ithe site can help when you’re stuck without a set of wheels.
“There is often a focus upon financial gains within the sharing economy, and this is certainly a large factor,” they tell us about the high cost of living within the UK today. “As the cost of ownership rises for anything from cars to houses to parking spots, more and more people begin to explore ways to ease these costs.
“We find that at easyCar Club, the majority of our owners rent their cars out in order to subsidise their motoring costs. Yet there is another factor involved here, and it’s a little more ideological. Ownership, something traditionally viewed as an important status symbol and aspirational goal, is starting to become less important than access. Even before the recent boom of the sharing economy, people have been moving away from ownership.”
The team cites the advent of Spotify, and the fact that its users don’t actually own the songs they’re streaming, as a move away from ownership in the mainstream. It’s a widely-held belief in many circles that owning things is becoming less important than being able to use them on demand, like watching movies on Netflix over buying the Blu-Ray. The same is true of cars.
While the sharing economy is booming, it’s clear that many of us are still on the fence about the prospect of sharing what we have with strangers. This is something the easyCarClub team fully appreciates. “If you’re on the fence, you’re certainly not alone,” they tell us. “The sharing economy absolutely relies upon trust, and that will never change.
“Our responsibility as facilitators of these sharing transactions is to provide all of the support structures that build trust in both parties. So for those on the fence, have a look at how companies like ours protect and support our users, you’ll often be surprised at how much we have covered.”
“We created the company with a faith in the pioneers of new and exciting concepts, and we’re glad to see that they delivered,” they continue. “There will always be a pocket of society who see a new idea and take the leap of faith required to try it out.
“[Car] Owners often tell us that the standard reaction from friends and family when they say that they rent their car out to those in their local community is surprise and intrigue. A lot of people like to be the first in their group of friends to try something out and, fortunately, they’re also the first to tell everybody about it when they’ve had a good experience.”
The same is certainly true of Liftshare, which has enjoyed a wealth of positive testimonials and word-of-mouth recommendations from users among friends. Slowly but surely, the sharing economy as a whole is becoming a global entity that is proving difficult to ignore. Part of this spread – easyCarClub feels, is down to the way online interactions make the world a smaller place.
The team adds, “The internet has revolutionised large-scale and international interactions, and also makes it possible to be much more communal, in particular with regard to social media. Whereas Facebook and Twitter have cultivated close contact in virtual communities, the sharing economy has the ability to strengthen and connect local communities – it’s using the internet and technology as a force for positive real-world sociability.”
Anyone who has used a sharing service – Liftshare included, will tell you that they can result in new connections with other users. Many of our members have become friends outside of their daily commute, and that is certainly uplifting in what many of agree are difficult financial times.
It certainly speaks volumes that the amount of sharing companies out there today is growing all the time, and it seems that our barriers are dropping when it comes to embracing the idea of sharign what we have with others.
So next time you need to rent a car , why not give easyCarClub a look?