The launch of a peer-to-peer car lending website last week prompted me to think about how car ownership is changing. Borrowing a car from a stranger is a concept I find really hard to get to grips with.
The site in question matches cash-strapped people with cars languishing on their drives with others who need to get somewhere but don’t own their own wheels.
Everywhere you look online at the moment somebody is heralding the death of car ownership as we know it. According to the theorists and crystal ball gazers, on-demand mobility will soon replace old-fashioned car ownership, with people accessing a joined up suite of transport options via the internet.
Joining a car share scheme
Need a quick way of getting from one side of town to the other? Hop into an electric city car or scooter to nip through the traffic, and leave it at your destination ready for someone else to borrow.
Travelling further afield? The choices grow to include renting a hybrid car or joining a car share or lending group that’ll give you the use of either a pool car or someone else’s vehicle.
I can appreciate the financial benefits – not many things lose their value as quickly as a shiny new car, and if you buy a used car you could be hit with big repair bills every year.
Borrowing the neighbour’s car
But would you really want to borrow a stranger’s car, or even worse your neighbour’s car? With the latter, the potential for ruined relationships seems huge. What if their children had left chocolate and crisp crumbs all over the seats, or if they arrive late with the car, in turn making you late for an important meeting?
For me, this is as step too far in the whole journey from being a car-owning motorist to a car-using transporter. While I may be happy to borrow a pushbike or scooter to whizz around a city, I will be keeping a tight grip on the logbook of my own car. And I won’t be inviting my neighbours to borrow it while I’m at work.
Would you be happy to be part of a shared car scheme? Have you ditched your beloved car and taken to renting a vehicle just when you need it?