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Mobility & Transport

Car sharing initiatives are taking off across the world. In the United Kingdom, Streetcar offers pay-as-you-go hire to consumers who like the convenience and flexibility of owning a car without the costs and hassles. The twist? Unlike most other car sharing ventures, Streetcar doesn’t charge users a fixed monthly or annual fee. Instead, their new Volkswagen Golf cars can be rented for GBP 4.95 per hour or GBP 35 for a 24-hour period. Cars can be booked online or over the phone either months in advance or just minutes before departure, and can be picked up and returned 24/7. How it works? Customers sign up and pay a one-off lifetime membership fee of GBP 25. Booking takes place online or by phone, and a confirmation with the car’s details (exact location, colour, license plate number) is sent to the customer both by email and sms. An sms is also sent to the car, to tell it who will pick it up. To unlock a car, customers hold a smart card up to the windshield. Door opens, and they’ll find the ignition key in the glove compartment. Monthly bills give a detailed breakdown of all journeys, and show how much was saved by not owning a car. The entire process is extremely customer-friendly, and nice touches include an iPod connector in every car, as well as a hands-free car phone that users can forward their own mobile phone to. We’ve written about car sharing before (How Zip got into the Ivy League), and still believe fragmented car ownership is a highly promising business concept: increasing numbers of consumers are more interested in experience than ownership, no longer viewing cars as the ultimate status-symbol, but as a utility. Serving them and being green doesn’t mean forsaking profits: Streetcar went into the black 18 months after launching. And let’s not forget the environmental benefits: studies show that every car shared results in 6 private cars being taken off the road. May sharing proliferate!

Website: www.streetcar.co.uk

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