As demographics, economics, and personal preferences change, carsharing becomes more practical.
For urbanites and Millennials in America, car ownership has become more expensive, more time consuming, and less desirable. A number of companies are making carsharing easier than ever, eliminating many of the hassles of vehicle ownership.
The most dominant player in the American market is Cambridge, Mass.-based Zipcar, founded in 2000, and already publicly traded on the NASDAQ. Zipcar's CEO Scott Griffith told Time Magazine, "Millennials really live a different way. Car ownership isn't as important to them. If you asked people to name their top brands, it used to be that a car brand would show up quickly, but that is lower down for Millennials, maybe into the second 10. If they had to pick between a smartphone or a car, they would pick the phone."
RelayRides, based in Boston, has created its own iteration of the carsharing concept. The firm, founded in 2010, bills itself as the "world's first, and leading, peer-to-peer car sharing marketplace." RelayRides connects people in need of vehicles with vehicle owners whose vehicles would otherwise be unused. RelayRides provides the technology to make such transactions happen, as well as insurance.
Traditional car companies are taking note: General Motors Ventures, the manufacturer's investment arm, recently invested $3 million into RelayRides, which followed a similar investment from Google Ventures, further demonstrating the search- and advertising-focused company's increasing interest into vehicles, as it has already created a driverless car.
But it's not only large companies that have entered the carsharing market: One of the latest forays into carsharing has been made by American entrepreneur Greg Moran, 27, who recently took a break from his MBA pursuits at the University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business and moved to Bangalore, India, to launch carsharing startup Zoom, conceived in 2010, where he is a co-founder and CEO.
Zoom is a membership-based service that will allow its customers to rent vehicles on an hourly or daily basis, and Moran believes that it is India's first carsharing service.
"We viewed the transportation ecosystem in India as highly incomplete based on research and conversations," he said. "We were big believers in the carsharing model and thought it had tremendous potential for India. Creating a potentially massive impact at scale was the big lure."
After months of research throughout the subcontinent, Moran and his partners settled on Bangalore, with plans to expand to Mumbai when his pilot program succeeds. "We've raised a friends and family round of over $100K and we'll be hitting the streets of Bangalore later this fall with our ten car soft launch," he said. "We'll be collecting data on usage, customer experience, operational logistics, and more."
With carsharing companies flourishing around the world, the environment and the global economy both stand to gain.
STEPHEN ROBERT MORSE - Stephen Robert Morse is a writer, multimedia journalist, producer, digital strategist, and entrepreneur, currently based in New York City.
This article originally appeared on The Atlantic Online as part of the Investing In A Better Tomorrow program.
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