Car sharing in Australia – low-cost, flexible, and growing fast.
Owning a car comes with huge costs – not just for your bank account but for the environment too. And as cities become more crowded, the burden on the environment is only getting worse (not to mention the nightmare of finding a parking space).
Enter car share – the affordable, flexible and ethical alternative to owning your own car.
More and more Australians are joining the car share revolution. Share cars are popping up on the streets like mushrooms. So which option is best for you?
Buckle up and let’s explore the ins and outs of car sharing in Australia.
What is car sharing and why should you try it?
When it comes to car sharing in Australia, there are two main options:
- traditional car share (such as GoGet); and
- peer-to-peer care share (like Car Next Door).
Both allow you to access a car whenever you like, without the ongoing expense of owning one.
Unlike ride sharing platforms like Uber, car sharing gives you the freedom of driving the car yourself. And unlike old-fashioned car rental, share cars are conveniently located in the streets all around you. You can rent a car for as little as one hour if that’s all you need.
Traditional car share vs. peer-to-peer car share: what’s the difference?
The main difference is that traditional car share fleets are owned by companies, whereas peer-to-peer cars belong to regular people just like you, who have made their cars available for others to share.
Peer-to-peer (or neighbour-to-neighbour) car sharing keeps your dollars within your community, and makes better use of the millions of privately owned cars sitting idle and unused. It also means there’s a wider range of car types to choose from (station wagons, vans, SUVs – whatever your neighbours are sharing).
There’s also a pretty hefty price difference when it comes to car sharing and car rental options in Australia. Here’s an example:
You need a car for a day, to get around town. You’ll be travelling 40 km. What’s your best option?
- Regular car hire (with Avis, Hertz or the like) will cost you $80-20
- Traditional car share (like GoGet) will cost $85-100
- Hiring a neighbour’s car through Car Next Door will cost less than $45.
How does car sharing work?
- Find a car near you: Share cars are distributed on the streets of Australian cities, right where people live and work. There might be some in your own neighbourhood.
- Join a car-share network: You can sign up as a member of a car sharing network online. It's free to join Car Next Door - some other car share companies charge a joining fee or monthly membership fees.
- Book and drive instantly: Once you're a member, you can locate and book cars online whenever you need to drive. You don’t need to go to a depot and fill in paperwork before each trip, or meet anyone to get the keys: car sharers can go straight to the car and swipe in using a card, or access the keys from a secure lockbox attached to the car. You can even book a car right from your smartphone and access it immediately. It’s almost too easy.
- Keep the car for an hour or a few days: You can rent a car for an hour, a day, a week or more. You'll generally pay for the time you have the car (e.g. with Car Next Door, you'll pay $5-7 an hour or $25-$35 a day on average) and the distance you drive. And if you’re having too much fun to head home, you can extend your trip with a few swipes of your smartphone.
- Fuel and insurance are included: If you need to top up the tank during your trip, most car share companies have a fuel card you can use. There’s a fuel card in every Car Next Door vehicle. Insurance is included, though you can usually lower your excess (the amount you'll pay if you cause damage) by paying a small extra cost.
Not sure where to begin your sharing journey? Here’s a breakdown of your options for car sharing in Australia
1: Peer-to-peer car share for short term bookings (from an hour to a few weeks)
Car Next Door is Australia’s first and only short-term peer-to-peer car sharing network. It’s free to sign up and daily rates are up to 40% cheaper than other car sharing options – which is probably why it’s gaining popularity at lightning speed.
2: Long-term peer-to-peer car rental (from a month to a year)
Drive My Car Rentals lets you rent cars from people who aren’t using them for a long period, from a month to a year. Borrowers need to meet the car’s owner to exchange keys, and you need to sign a contract each time you rent.
3: Traditional car share
Traditional car share fleets are owned by companies and are scattered across the city in designated parking spaces. Membership fees and rates vary significantly, as do car locations.
The following companies offer traditional car share services in Australian cities. Their membership fees and rate structures vary significantly, as do their car locations:
What's the difference between car sharing and 'ride sharing' or car pooling?
Car sharing is different from ride sharing. Car sharing is a system where several people are able to use the same car, but at different times. People book a time slot to use the car, and drive it themselves. Don’t confuse it with ’ride sharing’ or car pooling. When you ride share, you’re in the car with other people heading to the same place (or at least in the same direction). Think of it as a more orderly form of hitchhiking. We’re all for it, but it’s not what Car Next Door is about.