Car sharing is caring
For an increasing number of city dwellers, car ownership is becoming less and less of a necessity.
Uber, Bolt (previously Taxify) and various other car-sharing apps, have made accessing a car as easy as tapping out a text message. It also makes it easier to car share without actually owning one – Uber, for example, allows users to simply split the fare or add several stops to a journey.
On a larger scale, Findalift, with almost 20 000 registered members in South Africa, is geared towards helping businesses. Through this platform, organisations can now set up their own automated journey-matching systems to encourage and enable ride sharing among their staff.
Another local option, Jumpin Rides, tackles the safety concern out of carpooling with strangers by allowing women-only group rides.
Anyone with a private car can sign up to be a driver, and connect with passengers going the same way. (To stay on the right side of insurance regulations, however, drivers should only share fuel costs with their passengers and not profit from the arrangement.)
Renting commercial vehicles is on the rise
It seems the trend is growing among commercial vehicle operators, too. In 2012, Scania South Africa started a truck rental arm in conjunction with its sales department, and the company’s rental business has grown substantially from there.
By 2017 it was a solid contributor to profitability, according to CFO and director of truck rental at Scania South Africa, Patrik Glas-Crommert.
Today, the South African market includes the likes of Super Rent, which has a 2 500-strong fleet, and Imperial Truck Rental, offering more than 1 150 vehicles with or without drivers for rental periods ranging from one day to 60 months.
Other giants like Volvo have also joined the rental game, and going forward, it looks likely that even fewer commercial vehicle operators will own vehicles themselves.
Car-sharing technology speeds ahead
The changing outlook on car ownership, whether for personal or commercial purposes, also means that vehicle manufacturers are relooking their business models.
BMW, for instance, operated an app called DriveNow in world cities for a number of years: you located a car, used it for what you needed it, and left it wherever you chose to in the area.
The app eliminated car keys, making it possible for users to unlock vehicles with their smartphones in a matter of seconds. In 2019, DriveNow merged with Daimler AG’s car2go to form Share Now, combining a fleet of 20 000 vehicles in 31 cities, in 14 countries, with more than 4 million members on the app.
BMW and Daimler have also joined forces to further develop self-driving car technology. The joint venture will focus on car sharing, ride hailing, parking, charging and multimodality (the different ways drivers and passengers interact and indicate commands to vehicles, for example voice, touchscreens and gestures), so expect to see more advancements in the near future.
By award-winning motoring journalist Charlene Clarke and the MiNDSPACE team.