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Car-sharing service seeks to match drivers with 'idle capacity'

Car-sharing service seeks to match drivers with 'idle capacity'

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Many cars sit idle in their owners' driveways 90% of the time. New service intends to match them up with drivers needing temporary transportation.

The principle behind grid computing is that there is great demand for computing power, and at the same time, many underused computers sitting out there, idle. The key is to match the supply with demand in a dynamic way.

Can the same principle be applied to cars? That's the idea behind a new car-sharing service, called Spride Share, which plans to employ social networking to bring people looking to rent cars together with car owners whose vehicles are sitting idle for a while. Why not rent them out on an on-demand basis?

Katie Fehrenbacher describes how Spride Share intends to leverage the Web to match car owners with renters.

Car sharing in general is a growing mode of transportation. Fehrenbacher cites Frost & Sullivan estimates that car-sharing grew by 117% between  2007 in 2009 in North America, and will have more than four million drivers within the next five years. Well-known car-sharing networks include ZipCar and City CarShare, which maintain fleets of vehicles for general sharing.

Spride Share is a car-sharing network in which regular car owners can rent out their vehicles on an hourly basis to pre-screened drivers. Car owners benefit from sharing the costs of owning their vehicles, while renters have access to a wider network of vehicles. Making your car available to the network at least 10 hours a week will provide returns of $2,000 to $3,000 a year, the service estimates. Spride Share will arrange for the installation of a device that will enable trusted drivers to access their carts without the need to exchange keys.

The penalties for dirty, damaged, or smelly cars are the same as those enforced by car rental companies. Spride Share has been launched, but the service is currently held up by insurance laws that don't favor leasing of private vehicles, Fehrenbacher says.

(Photo credit: US National Institutes of Health, Noisy Planet site)

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Joe McKendrick

Contributing Editor

Joe McKendrick is an independent analyst who tracks the impact of information technology on management and markets. He is a co-author of the SOA Manifesto and has written for Forbes, ZDNet and Database Trends & Applications. He holds a degree from Temple University. He is based in Pennsylvania. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure