Whipcar closes peer-to-peer car rental service
Peer-to-peer car lending scheme, Whipcar has decided to close its operations, effective from today.
The service, which enables drivers needing a car to borrow a neighbour’s vehicle in return for a small fee, has issued a statement to its customers saying that while in many ways its business has been a success, there are still “barriers to widespread adoption of peer-to-peer car rental in the UK”.
First launched in April 2010 in London, the service spread nationwide, and by December 2012, even launched a fleet service for businesses.
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Much like a car club, this approach to motoring helped drivers reduce the expense of using a car, by giving them flexible access to cars rather than taking an ownership route. For the owners who use the service, it was a convenient way to make some money, by hiring out their cars when they didn’t need them.
According to research by the Whipcar, private car owners who used its service on average made over a £1,000 a year – or 14 per cent of the annual cost of running a car – simply by renting their cars to people who live near them just once a month.
Of course, choosing to hire your neighbour’s car rather than using a car club or traditional car rental services can have its pitfalls (as this blog post from Liz Turner’s Woman Driver Blog, shows) and the increasing success of the likes of car2go, Zipcar and City Car Club, means that the market for flexible rental in the UK is getting very competitive.
Announcing that it will no longer be taking bookings and that existing bookings have been cancelled, Whipcar’s website says: “We have made the extremely difficult decision to close WhipCar. We would like to thank our wonderful community members, our colleagues and our investors for their incredible support over the past three exciting years.”