Brilliant Transportation Idea: Carsharing for All

May 24, 2010

by Sara Stroud

Carsharing is on the rise, but it must be more scalable to have a real impact on easing traffic congestion and cutting carbon emissions, according to cleantech investor Sunil Paul. That’s the idea behind Spride Share,  a San Francisco-based carsharing startup that came out of stealth in late April and is backed by Paul’s early-stage venture fund Spring Ventures, which has funded cleantech startups such as Nanosolar and algal fuel company Solazyme.

Unlike other car sharing companies, Spride Share, doesn’t actually own a fleet of cars. Instead, it allows individual vehicle owners to rent out their cars to Spride users. Therefore, the model automatically spreads to where the demand is, whether that’s a dense city neighborhood or a suburb, according to Paul, who is founder and CEO.

The company would install hardware that would operate the locks and track the vehicles. The service would be free to vehicle owners, and would charge users an hourly fee to cover overhead, including insurance. Spride would share profits with car owners, which would range between $2,000 and $7,200 per year, depending on the type of car and hours that it is shared, according to the company.

In North America, membership in car sharing services increased 117 percent from 2007 to 2009, with membership expected to reach 4.4 million by 2016, according to a 2010 report from Frost & Sullivan.

Spride’s success largely hinges on California lawmakers, who are considering a new law that would allow vehicle owners to participate in a personal vehicle-sharing program without having it affect their auto insurance policies. If that law passes, which Paul says could happen by the end of the summer, the company plans to launch a pilot program in six to nine months. Φ

Sara Stroud writes for sustainableindustries.com. Editor’s note: the bill mentioned, AB 1871, has been reported out of committee.

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4 Responses to “ Brilliant Transportation Idea: Carsharing for All ”

  1. craig on May 24, 2010 at 10:20 am

    * This will be almost as popular as sharing toothbrushes.

    * Many, if not most of the articles we read at OPW, amount to “mopping while the faucet’s running”. Let’s imagine that they’re provided with editorial footnotes linking to a set of the prime issues that we need to focus upon.

    It would be fascinating (and humanly worthwhile in itself) to set up an OPW committee for that purpose: identifying those prime issues: regionally, nationally, world-wide/civilizationally. Done right (and as amended over time), they would become a defining “platform” for the OPW effort. Such clarity should gain more (and more enthusiastic) members than it alienates.

    * The footnotes for this particular “Brilliant Transportation Idea” would link to standard, compellingly well polished OPW boilerplate items with titles such as: “Overpopulation”(subheadings: a political taboo, population policy, sustainability), “Sprawl”(subheadings: the suburbs syndrome, the quality and security of urban life), “Multi-use Buildings”(subheadings: living where you work, OTJ daycare) –and such.

    * Trying to address and “fix” just a part of our societal juggernaut is very honorable but {hug} pathetic. Attempts to holistically define how we all might live, what we might live for, and then to go forth and model it (yourself –hopefully within the living dialogue of an “intentional community”) are among the noblest undertakings that this life has to offer.

  2. Peter on May 26, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    A committee such as you suggest, Craig, would be a great addition. I invite you to organize it. The PeaceWorker would be happy to publish what your committee concludes.

    As regards approaching social change holistically, please take a look at our Peace Visioning work. The basic ideas are published in my blog. Start at http://oregonpeaceworks.org/wordpress/?p=5. Additional articles are posted on the PeaceWorker site and can be found by selecting the Peace Visioning category.

  3. craig on June 3, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    Dear Peter, / I’ve just now checked back to look for responses.

    * Clearly, I’m not the best candidate to organize and run such an effort since I’m not good at martialing a spread of opinions with fair representation. Example: my contribution (above) was surprisingly unmindful of your “The Peace Movement Needs a New Strategy”, despite my having sent you (on 9/30/2009) a heart-felt response.

    * Let me now make amends by noting that you’ve nicely addressed one of the points I brought up in my above response –via your 1/22/2010 follow-up comments to “New Strategy”, concerning population growth. (I’m also pleasantly surprised to see population as a current Mother Jones feature:

    > http://motherjones.com/special-reports/2010/05/population-last-taboo

    –and as a “Green” blog item at the New York Times:

    > http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/12/22/population-growth-and-global-warming/ )

    Another issue I’d have in trying to assemble such a group is that, despite having been a “dotcom” president just 11 years ago and a long standing web author, I’ve not gotten into “texting” nor “i-phones”; I’m barely aware of recent phenomena like “Twitter” and “Face Book”, so my connectivity and outreach would be lame by modern standards.

    * I can, however, participate and point out issues which are so relevant that, without prioritizing them, we’re mostly spinning our wheels on the others. (The big one is population, but #2 is that enduring rationale for our wars: “9/11”. Please see:

    > http://www.911truth.org/article.php?story=20100527162010811

    * Possibly, your web team should review the sign-up process for joining these OPW forums. Applicants are given a high security password. Mine was too difficult to accurately write down, so I copied and pasted that password until finding out how to change it to something more reasonable. We’re not doing banking here.

  4. Peter on June 7, 2010 at 9:46 am

    Craig,

    Possibly your dotcom experience leads you to believe that we have a “web team” here because that’s how business would do it. Unfortunately, that’s not how a small nonprofit works. We are struggling to survive and I am the “web team” most of the time (with a little help now and then when I get stymied). The signup routine is the one that comes with the program. Sorry about that.

    The same problem bedevils your committee suggestion. I have too many balls in the air right now to be the one to follow through on the many great ideas that members suggest to me. It’s definitely come to the point that most of the time if I can’t get any help from the suggester, their ideas will not be implemented no matter how good they are. That’s simply the unfortunate reality of trying to operate a nonprofit in this economy.

    Peter

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