Carshare programs like Car2Go and Zipcar provide short-term rentals to people who need quick rides. They also provide the cars, the car maintenance, and the gas—and that stuff is expensive.
What if there were a way for a company to cut out the car ownership part and still provide a carshare service? Or somehow offload the car ownership and maintenance responsibility onto the user?
If you read the headline, you probably already know where this is going, but here it is: Ford’s new Peer-2-Peer Sharing program includes the option to finance a Ford car and then rent it through the peer-to-peer carshare system Getaround to earn money for the monthly payments. As Ars Technica puts it:
As part of the program, people who buy their cars through the company’s credit arm, Ford Credit, will be invited to offset their monthly payments by allowing drivers to rent their cars by the hour.
Wow. I don’t even know where to begin, but let’s just start with Ford Credit, because I am very curious about the interest rate on Ford’s credit arm. I’ve never bought a car, but if you need a car loan, it’s better to go through a bank than through Ford Credit, right? Then once you’re making payments (plus interest) to Ford Credit, you get to essentially run a carshare service out of your home, while taking care of the car’s upkeep, gas, etc.
It’s like Airbnb for cars, and I’d be willing to bet those words are part of the Ford Peer-2-Peer Sharing elevator pitch.
I’ll quote Ars Technica again:
Ford cited a Penn Schoen Berland study claiming that, “One third of Millennials in the United States are interested in renting out their own belongings as a way to supplement their income.”
Now that’s just sad.
I totally get why people would want to rent out their belongings—I’d consider it, if I had anything worth renting—but at some point it’s like we’ve taken the idea of sharing our resources with our friends and monetized it. Does Ford take a cut every time someone rents your car? That would be icing on the car-shaped cake.
There’s one more piece worth discussing, and it has to do with the idea that when a company provides a product or service, it has an incentive to ensure that product or service is in top condition. I mean, sure, not every company does that—the words “Taco Bell bathroom” come to mind—but every time I’ve gotten into a Car2Go it has been the cleanest, nicest car experience you could imagine.
I just don’t see that happening with the Ford peer-to-peer plan, especially if it’s operated by busy people who are holding down other jobs and don’t have time to wash and vacuum their cars regularly or figure out exactly why the Check Engine Light is blinking.
But hey, I could be wrong. Here’s a video from Ford explaining how their new service works and what they hope to achieve from this experiment. (If you guessed “data mining” would be one of their goals, you’d be right.)
What do you think about Ford’s new experiment? Would you rent out your car through a peer-to-peer carsharing program?