Car Rental, Sharing, and Mobility. What’s The Difference?

Nima Tahami
Apr 27, 2018 · 5 min read

We live in a time where we can access more resources than we actually own, which is great news. We no longer have to necessarily own everything we use, and on the other hand, we can earn money from things we own when we’re not using them, all with a tap of a button.

We can sleep in villas that we only have to pay a few nights for, drive new cars that we only pay a few days for, and even use luxury accessories and clothing items for a couple of days.

In the midst of the growth of the sharing economy and our startup ShiftRide, we’ve been asked many times, “how is ShiftRide different from car rental?” and “what is this ‘On-Demand Mobility’, that ShiftRide keeps talking about?”.

I thought I’d answer these questions in a post, so here it is…

Car Rental

The Objective
You’ve most likely decided that you’re traveling somewhere outside of the city and looking to stay there for at least a day.

Your Options
When it comes to renting a car, it comes down to 2 options. Option 1 is renting a car from a fleet rental company (these are your Hertz, Enterprise, Avis, etc) who own and manage their own fleet of cars. Option 2 is renting from a P2P (or a peer-to-peer car sharing company. These include Turo and Getaround) providing you the option to rent other people’s cars usually at better daily rates and higher variety/locations. At this point, you consider the allowed mileages as all these options come with their own daily mileage caps, as well as age restrictions, and a set of provided insurance plans.

Car Sharing

Car rental made more flexible

The Objective
You’ve likely decided to run errands or do something within the city or perhaps outside the city for a few hours to half a day. You may have bundled all of your errands to justify reserving a shared car with a friend or a roommate. Another less likely objective is that you like driving and want to discover new places nearby and new cars (I fit in this category myself :).

Your Options
At this point, your options narrow down to more flexible options which may include Car2Go, Getaround, ZipCar, Enterprise CarShare, etc. A lot of these companies are already in the car rental space but allow for hourly trips as well. You likely need to schedule your trip an hour or more in advance, have your objective planned out clearly which means knowing exactly how long you’ll be out for. At this point, you consider age restrictions, any required subscription packages or sign up fees, and locations. Location becomes more important with car sharing as you’d probably prefer not to walk a lot since you’re only accessing the car for a shorter period of time.

On-Demand Mobility

More flexible and usable transportation system

The Objective
With on-demand mobility, you’re now looking at short daily trips you’re making around the city (in ShiftRide’s case, round trips). You need to make a trip to the local Walmart, grab food, go to the mall/movies/gym and back. You don’t own a car, but want something as close as possible to it for your day-to-day activities to save time and get more done in your day.

The Options
At this point, your options narrow down even more in order of affordability to your current car sharing companies, ride-hailing companies/taxis, public transit, and walking. There needs to be a vehicle within a very short distance to you, because otherwise it’s not worth it. ShiftRide sits somewhere between ride-hailing and public transit right now in terms of pricing. You can read more about how our pricing works and how it’s affordable. You can also get a price estimate here.

Here’s an overview of all of that in a diagram…

Why is ShiftRide in the mobility sector?

This is a great question — why has ShiftRide been positioning itself as a daily transportation method rather than the traditional rental sectors? The reason is very simple, we took car ownership and reverse-engineered it to make it more feasible and affordable, on both ends — car owners with an under-utilized asset put into use and users without a car at all, getting access to one.

This is the future we believe right now which is “Ultimate Mobility” — A future where anyone can go anywhere they want at anytime in the most affordable, convenient, and usable manner. Car owners can now afford their cars by sharing access and earning money and users access a car to a similar degree to owning the car. That’s exactly the reason why many ShiftRide customers returning weekly and sometimes even daily.

We think the future of automotive is going towards this model of ‘accessing’ rather than ‘owning’ a car, and we’ll be seeing more OEMs and rental companies innovate towards mobility.

What about autonomous cars?

As you can imagine, with the emerging self-driving technologies, every company working within or even close to the automotive industry is sitting and watching closely as signs of feasibility, affordability, and adoptability around them slowly become transparent. As self-driving technology advances and emerges, we’ll see the wall between the Car Rental, Car Sharing, and On-Demand Mobility sectors get thinner and eventually fade away.

At that point, customers have a chance to summon a self-driving car based on their preference of platform, car manufacturer, location, and more. It’ll kind of be like taking a cool photo and deciding which social media platform to share it on, not to mention you still have the option to post on multiple channels.

Thanks for reading!

Thanks to Zac Pour

Nima Tahami

Written by

Entrepreneur & Designer

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