"Buzzers" and "Auto-Preneurs" Expand Peer-to-Peer Car-Sharing in France
buzzcar-1

Buzzcar's business model relies on a "hive mentality" of sharing cars. Logo via Buzzcar.

Robin Chase, the co-founder and former CEO of Zipcar, teamed up with Mobivia Groupe, a privately held car maintenance company, to launch yet another innovative car-sharing program: Buzzcar. Announced last week in France, the new technology-driven service allows individuals to rent their own cars through a smartphone application to other drivers in need of some temporary wheels. As co-founder Chase describes it: “leveraging individual’s excess capacity on a common internet platform.”

The system enables individuals, companies and institutions to share their own vehicles with their peers, without having to wait for a car-sharing program to be installed near them. By making private vehicles available for use during their off-time, Buzzcar reduces the number of cars on the road and the resulting occupied parking spaces—a new concept in the car-sharing world. Since the program does not require the addition of new cars to the road, it also prevents the increase of carbon emissions.

Buzzcars allows car owners to set their own rates for renting out their vehicles. Photo via Buzzcar.

Buzzcar allows car owners to set their own rates for renting out their vehicles. Photo via Buzzcar.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Upon downloading the smartphone application, interested drivers can search for available cars in their region and contact the car owner directly. “The first time a new driving member (a Buzzer) rents a vehicle, the car’s owner (the Auto-preneur) will confirm on key exchange that the driver matches the driver’s license and identity card that the driver used when becoming a member,” Chase explains.

The system will also require the driver’s mobile phone number and payment information before making the reservation, all in an effort to ensure security and safety to the car owner. Car owners will also be held up to safety and security standards once they have added their own vehicles into the system.

“Buzzcar creates a user community that is accompanied by recommendations and comments for each driver and owner,” says Chase.  Prior to registration, owners pledge to “maintain the car in a safe and secure manner,” which complemented with ratings and comments from the Buzzcar community, promotes a fair and secure rental system.

In addition to the annual membership fee of €20 ($28), “Buzzers” pay rental fees that are determined by the “Auto-preneurs.” Buzzcar relies on different variables to suggest pricing for a vehicle, but ultimately, the vehicle owners decide on the rental’s price. Through an online price estimator, Buzzcar considers factors like the age of the vehicle, its brand and fuel type, location and mileage. Proximity to other modes of transportation, a fair price and an eagerness to participate in the community will also increase your chances of finding drivers near you, according to Buzzcar’s website.

When people register for Buzzcar, they get to choose an insect-themed avatar. The ladybug is "charming and loved by all."

When people register for Buzzcar, they get to choose an insect-themed avatar for their online persona. The ladybug is "charming and loved by all."

WHAT’S ALL THE BUZZ ABOUT?

France already touts many transportation innovations, including Vélib’, Vélo’v and AutoLib’, that have encouraged people to actively rethink the status quo, Chase says, which is part of the reason she and her partners chose France as the launch site for Buzzcar. “A greater percent of the French population is car-independent, our target market, because of better public transit options and higher price of car ownership,” she says.

Car renting will not begin until May 1. Currently the program is building a sharing network through online enrollment, where users have the opportunity to win €5,609 ($8,000) for signing up. The prize amount is symbolic in that it signifies the financial commitment it takes to own and operate a vehicle in France per year.

“Car-sharing between individuals will grow wherever the owners and drivers are ready to agree,” Chase said in an article for La Tribune. “No need to wait for the goodwill of governments.”

Although Buzzcar is looking forward to expanding worldwide, one of the biggest obstacles to implementing the program in other countries is insurance, which needs to be arranged on a country-by-country basis.

Peer-to-peer car-sharing services are growing their “virtual” fleets in cities all over the world. Companies include WhipCarSpride ShareRelayRidesand GetAround, whose founder Sam Zeid said his service’s top earner made more than $970 in one month, exemplifying one of the financial advantages of participating.

The launch of Buzzcar and other companies is seen as being part of a larger trend of what some people are calling “The New Sharing Economy,” otherwise known as “collaborative consumption.” The increasingly popular mentality of “what’s mine is yours,” as explained by social innovator and author Rachel Botsman, is due to several factors, including Web and mobile technologies, environmental concerns, online connectivity and sharing, and even the global recession, which stresses practicality over consumption. Considering that a car spends 95 percent of its time sitting idle, why not share the resource with someone else who needs it?

To learn more about Buzzcar, visit the official website, currently in beta: www.buzzcar.com

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/B-David-Mehmet/1110494813 B. David Mehmet

    THE FUTURE OF PEER-TO-PEER CAR SHARING

    Car owners do NOT want to pay a commission to rent their cars out if they do NOT have to. For example, RentMyCar.com provides FREE listings. This is why websites like Craigslist have become so successful. Car owners also do NOT want to install keycard equipment into their cars that can be hacked by a handheld scanner while the keycard is in someone’s pocket. In addition, these car sharing companies are failing to inform the car owners that they could be liable for manslaughter if their renter gets into an accident due to a defect in the car that could have been uncovered and cured (This is the law).

    When all these companies finally figure it out, the final look of the peer to peer car sharing business model will look more like the eBay model. For example, it will contain both a CLASSIFIED and AUCTION section. Many car models will be in short supply unlike the conventional car rental market. Demand will out pass the supply. Renters will submit bids to rent the cars. The final winning bid will set the rental rate. All other less popular cars will be listed in the classified section.

    There will be peer to peer car lots where people can park their cars for FREE and have them rented out when they are NOT using them (This is a setup for a franchise business model).

    There will be individual car managers who manage and rent out groups of cars for their neighbors in exchange for a fee (Peer-to-Peer Car Brokers).

    There will be landlords that provide space for peer to peer car sharing and they will use that as an incentive to rent out their apartments.

    There will be a master keycard that works with multiple car sharing companies.

    There will be a Virtual Vehicle Rental Sticker (VVRS) attached to the car windshield. The sticker will contain a QR bar code and it will allow renters to scan them with their smartphones to pull up the rental information, book the car and pay for the rental where ever the car is parked.

    There will be a search engine, or a search feature in Google that will consolidate and display a map result showing cars parked in multiple street locations from different car sharing companies and their prices with a link to that website’s booking page.

    There will be car sharing feeds where renters can receive ALERTS when a specific cars are listed near their location to give them a first come first rent option.

    I can go on and on. This is the future to the peer to peer car sharing business model. The FEE model companies like Relayrides and Getaround have employed now will FAIL. Because there will be FREE peer to peer listing sites.

    David
    RentMyCar

  • http://thecityfix.com/members/ericaschlaikjer/ Erica Schlaikjer

    Thanks for sharing your enthusiasm! Car-sharing is definitely one of the many solutions for urban mobility. And if you’re interested in the P2P movement, you might be interested in this other great website: http://shareable.net/. Enjoy!

    Erica Schlaikjer
    Managing Editor
    TheCityFix.com

  • http://cleardrive.eu Martin Thomsen

    @Nic do you have a link to the 300EV program?

  • Jacelyn D.

    I believe this worldwide phenomenon on “Collaborative Consumption” is only the beginning. Imagine this spreading to crowded cities all around, even in Asia and South America. I believe in California, another vehicle sharing company JustShareIt is launching in April/May and their peer-to-peer system includes motorcycles, boats and other assets as well…which I think is pretty cool! Why limit the sharing experience? Great article and love to see what comes next.

  • http://thecityfix.com/members/isonuparlak/ Itir Sonuparlak

    Thank you for sharing, Nic! We’re certainly keeping an eye out on all of these interesting projects.

  • http://www.cityzencar.com Nic le Douarec

    oops, my typo ;-(, of course, 2000 for zilok.

  • http://fr.zilok.com/ Zilok

    Hello Nicolas and thanks for your comment about Zilok.

    But Zilok offers today more than 2000 cars to rent, not 200 ;)

    Thanks a lot,

    Zilok

  • http://www.cityzencar.com Nic le Douarec

    Dear Itir,, it seems that his year France is going to be a very interesting spot to watch when it comes to the potential of P2P carsharing as no less than 6 providers together scan the market and co-createwith their users their own version of the service.

    Your article follows the announced launch of Buzzcar, of course, but zilok (www.zilok.fr) has been offering a car segment to its ‘all objects’ P2P rental marketplace for more than a year now (roughly 200 cars listed). Voiturelib, (www.voiturelib.com) is a P2P carsharing pure player (a few hundred cars), analogous to zilok in its offering.

    Then you have Livop (www.livop.fr) with pretty much a Relayrides approach to the market, and Deways, targeting students primarily.

    Finally you have Cityzencar (www.cityzencar.com), the company I co founded very early this year (www.cityzencar.com) enabling its members to build communities of rental practice with complete control, security and freedom, backed with professional advice on how to go about it (we too come from ‘traditional’ carsharing).

    And all this is happening as the Capital city, Paris is deemed to launch the largest one way enabled EV carsharing scheme (300 EVs)

    It’s going to be a sharing year for French cars !