One of the coolest features of the Visteon C-Beyond technology demo car at this year's CES is the built-in social ridesharing service. Though that's still a hypothetical service, there's a company doing something very similar in the real world, right now: Getaround.
Car sharing isn't a brand-new idea, you're thinking, so why should you care? Because unlike Zipcar and similar services, you're not renting fleet-managed econoboxes, but real cars that belong to real people (or renting your car out to people that need it). It's essentially a social rental system, with some specialized equipment to make it all possible.
A different kind of car sharing
We spoke with co-founder of Getaround at the show this week, and she gave us a walkthrough of the service and equipment. Basically, you join the service, install a kit, and you're ready to start lending your car out. But that's not the only angle.
Say you don't own a car, but you need one from time to time--sometimes for just a few hours. With Getaround's system, you can rent a car without having to get to the rental agency, and for just as long as you need it.
Even better, there are many kinds of cars among the 1,000 members already signed up that you wouldn't get to rent otherwise--cars like the Tesla Roadster Sport on display at CES. The car is a member's lent to the company just for the demo.
So how does it work?
If you want to rent a car, once you're signed up with the service, you use the Getaround app (currently only available for iPhone) to find a suitable car near you. Then you use the app to request the car, and once you're approved, you use the app just like a key fob to unlock and start the car. It's really pretty simple, and the hardware all appeared to work as claimed.
If you're looking to participate as a renter, you'll need to sign up with Getaround, install the kit in your car, and list it with the service. Then when you get a request from a potential renter, you can approve or deny the time slot sought depending on your own use of the car. The money from the rental is then sent to you, less a 30 percent fee to cover the cost of the service and insurance. Again, pretty simple.
Because there are no keys that have to change hands and there are records of who is renting and accessing the car at any given time, concerns over theft or damage are minimized.
Insurance is taken care of through the service so both lender and borrower are protected. The service is currently still in beta, but Scorpio says there are plans to have a series of tiers of cars and members to allow high-dollar exotics, classics, and supercars to participate in the service, too.
If you're near the San Francisco Bay area and you'd like to try it out, hit the link below. It's still essentially a startup, and there are sure to be kinks to work out, but we like the idea, and you may too.