The Next-Gen Car Sharing Players: Spride, WhipCar, RelayRides

With Zipcar busy gobbling up car sharing competitors, a new generation of startups offering a peer-to-peer or distributed model of car sharing is taking shape. WhipCar, over in the UK, and RelayRides and Spride Share (the most recent entry, with some big name backers) here in the U.S., aim to put together a service letting users rent out their personal vehicles to members. The three companies have the same basic concept in mind, with different ideas about how to get there.
It remains to be seen which, if any, of these very early stage companies will find a significant user base and successfully navigate the maze of insurance coverage for personal vehicles offered up for rental. Here’s a snapshot of the next-generation of car sharing innovators:

Spride Share WhipCar RelayRides
Founders Sunil Paul, Nitesh Mehta and Jason Starr Vinay Gupta  and Tom Wright Shelby Clark
Launch After passage of AB 1871, at the earliest. Bill goes to vote in CA May 5. Launched April 21, 2010 in London. Scheduled for Boston summer 2010.
Insurance Seeking to change CA law to enable commercial use of personal cars without voiding personal insurance. Spride says membership includes supplemental insurance for car owner, vehicle, and driver during the rental period. Coverage for loss/damage maxes out at £10M per event. Personal accident coverage subject to £5K limit. Courtesy car offered if rented vehicle breaks down. Startup holds $1M supplemental insurance and offers courtesy car in event of wreck during rental period. Minor damage claims not covered if they fall under $500 deductible, but RelayRides will hold car renter responsible by putting hold on credit card.
Safety & Security Car owners fill out online application. Spride checks vehicle history. Checks rented car’s registration and renter’s license. Requires safety check for all cars. Installs device to let them be unlocked with a key fob. Car owner and renter don’t have to meet.
Pricing “Comparable to existing car sharing rates,” with Spride taking cut for service fees and insurance. Car owner sets price, company takes 15 percent cut. WhipCar suggests rates for different cars based on neighborhood. Car owner sets price, company takes 15 percent cut. Extra charge for travel exceeding 20 miles per hour or 160 miles per day of rental.
Fines Fees charged for late car return. Spride will pay any traffic or parking violations during rental period, and then collect fee from driver. Car owners fined if they cancel or don’t show up. Drivers fined if they cancel, return car late or get ticketed. RelayRides will pay any traffic or parking tickets, then collect fee from driver. Car owner will get pinged if driver is running late (based on GPS tracking) and receive a fee if car is returned more than 15 mins late.
Hardware Installation takes 4-6 hours. Provides access to vehicle via swipe card, tracks mileage usage, records car access times, and ensures car is working properly. None. Car owner and renter have to meet in person. Device allows access to car via key fob, immobilizes engine (impossible to start car without reservation), locate the vehicle and track mileage.
Fuel Spride provides gas cards that bill fuel to the company, but costs are deducted from car owner’s monthly earnings. Driver pays. Included in rental cost. RelayRides provides gas card.

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