Questions Arise as More Car Makers Enter Car Sharing Market

By Randy Field

Following the success of Silvercar and their exclusive Audi A4 fleet, more Tier Ones are entering the car sharing market. While Silvercar is a rental agency, the premise for other entrants is the same: allow a member to rent and access a vehicle through his or her mobile device. Due to OEM’s reluctance for providing CANBus Parameter IDs (PIDs) to third parties, they are launching their own car sharing brands and services.

Last week, BMW launched their car sharing service ReachNow in Seattle, WA. ReachNow has 370 BMW and Mini vehicles with more to be added later. Private car owners will also have the option to rent their vehicle through ReachNow. The service has a $39 signup fee. The rental charge is 49 cents per minute.

Ford, too, has entered the car sharing market. After forming a partnership with the online, peer-to-peer car sharing company, Getaround, in 2015, Ford launched its own pilot car sharing service, Ford Credit Link, later that same year. The “lease” sharing program is for drivers approved through Ford Credit and allows vehicle owners to post their cars for use by others in the program. Ford Motor Credit, the automaker’s finance subsidiary, is formally entering into a relationship with Getaround in the U.S. and the EasyCar Club in the United Kingdom.

Not to be left behind, General Motors launched its experimental car sharing service, Maven, in January of this year. Maven's prices range from $6 to $12 per hour.

The recent rush of car makers into the car sharing market has raised a few important questions about how the landscape will look going forward:

     1.  The car sharing market has a finite set of target users. How many times can the same set of
         users be counted by each service provider?

     2. One shared vehicle has been projected to support as many as 7 users. If this is true, can car
         sharing fees offset the shrinking demand for new vehicles?

     3. Mixed vehicle fleets and older vehicles will continue to need aftermarket telematics for car
         sharing. With car makers entering the car sharing fray, how long can aftermarket telematics
         service providers survive?

While overtime each market entrant will answer these questions, the smart ones should seek them out now.