Thread: Is peer-to-peer carsharing going anywhere?

“Peer-to-peer carsharing” (P2P C/S) sounded to me for quite some time like a new mobility concept that was unlikely to go very far. The idea that, instead of a perfectly functional car rental service or a local carshare operation for people who might need a car for a bit, there might also be a niche in the market for people willing to share their own cars on a regular basis with others (for the most part strangers!), sounded to me at least like a well-intentioned 1970’s peace-and-love idea warmed over. But . . . I have of late been talking to some people who are more open in their thinking about P2P than I am/was — including several who are actually trying to make it work. So I am beginning to revise my thoughts. In a very big way, in fact. Let’s follow this thread together.

More to follow, but just in case you have yet to dig into this topic, here is a short list of P2P C/S projects that are making their way:

  • City Carshare, USA
  • DriveMyCar, Australia
  • Gettaround, USA
  • Go-Op, USA
  • RelayRides, USA
  • Spride, USA
  • WhipCar, UK
  • Wombat Car Club, UK

Dave Brook had a good introductory piece on the current state of play in the industry which you can check out at

You will know more, most probably. Comments, references and articles most welcome.

4 thoughts on “Thread: Is peer-to-peer carsharing going anywhere?

  1. Readers may be interested to know about a car-sharing scheme proposed by none other than Ivan Illich, the social critic best known for books like Deschooling Society and Energy & Equity.

    He and frequent collaborator Jean Robert, a Swiss architect also based in Cuernevaca, Mexico, described in 1992 to a “symposium on bicycle freedoms in Berlin” a plan for turning all car drivers into taxi drivers! First, a court decision would insist “that the use of tax-supported roads shall be limited to vehicles in public service. In effect, this means that every car with a free seat must stop when asked. To implement the decision, Congress passes a law that restricts licences to drivers who produce passenger-miles and earn income by doing so. No Samaritans needed. Henceforth everyone who is not a driver will be chauffeurred, and all drivers are available as chauffeurs.”
    “How imagine the details? Every citizen receives a Hack-Card. If a would-be passsenger signals a passing car with an empty seat, the driver must stop. The car contains a computer with as many slots as there are seats. For the construction of the black box, ways of billing the patrons and paying the drivers, Toshiba and the IRS are obviously competent. …”

    Illich and Robert go on to ponder the ramifications of such a scheme: “How much would traffic accelerate by eliminating tie-ups ? How much space would be created for pedestrians and bikes? How many would renounce transportation, and when? And who would finally be able to afford it? How many new jobs would be created for drivers as against those lost in the car industry?” And so forth.

    The paper describing this so-called Autostop scheme is freely available on the Pudel site in Bremen, where many papers by and relating to Illich are archived. It is full of wit and insight about transportation, transport, and traffic – which the authors are careful to distinguish from each other – and about walking and about the car. Ford’s Model T, they write, “brought the news that mobility would be an industrial product to be enjoyed only through unpaid labor. Each employee now had the “privilege” of purchasing a car. With this investment, he had to deliver his own work force to the factory door. For many, then, the car became the condition for selling themselves on the labor market, to purchase household needs, to educate their kids, to visit their aged parents.”

    My favorite line: “The more refined and more integrated the transporation system, the more we live in a society of morning joggers tied down during the rest of the day.”

  2. Isn’t this peer to peer carsharing in the UK sense of the word carsharing (what others might call ridesharing) not a shared car club vehicle. I would call this “p2p ridsharing” or, arguably, “p2p taxi”?

    Still it’s an interesting and thought-provoking idea. Fortunately (or unfortunately) in the US we don’t have any activist judges on the Supreme Court. They’re all “originalists” trying to determine (or is it “undermine”) what the Founding Fathers really intended – in this case, it would be wagon or stage coach sharing!

  3. If I read about Car-Sharing I never read about the Belgian Organisation Autopia.; This organisation is not an operator of P2P-CS but supports many P2P CS groups in Flanders. Today they have about 1000 members (car-sharers). They don’t focus on technology, but on tailor-made and standard agreements for open and closed CS-groups. They support them in finding matches, negotiating insurance, reservation schemes and promotion of the concept.

    Autopia’s last innovative projects were the integration of a small muncipilaty’s fleet in P2P cs and the integration of P2P CS in a housing project : If you buy a house, you become a member of a P2P cs group, with one or more cars, owned buy a community of the same residents.


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