But don’t be mistaken. The sharing economy is more than a few people renting their lawn mower for $5 a day.
ZipCar, America’s largest car-sharing service, was purchased by Avis in January for $491.3 million.
I-GO, the first to bring car-sharing to Chicago in 2002, was acquired in May by Enterprise Holdings, operators of Enterprise, National and Alamo rent-a-car brands. The financial terms of that acquisition were not disclosed, as Enterprise is a private company.
While one-time non-profit car-sharing services being gobbled up by national brands certainly diminishes the community-level spending appeal to the sharing economy, it may offer a more reliable delivery system.
“The challenge (with car-sharing and the sharing economy) is people are often concerned about sharing with someone else and actually knowing who you are sharing with,” said Ryan Johnson, assistant vice president of Enterprise Car Sharing. “What worries people in the sharing economy is the methodology in which I am bound to other sharers. This really has opened up the spectrum of who can and wants to share by eliminating that one-on-one handoff that makes people concerned and providing credibility.”
Car-sharing outlets acquired by companies also avoid the regulatory uncertainty that clouds the sharing economy.
As Reported by The Wall Street Journal, SideCar suspended its service in New York City in May after an administrative court judge ruled that one of its drivers violated the city’s law governing taxis and limousines.
There are other concerns surrounding the sharing economy, chiefly that peer-to-peer transactions aren’t being reported as taxable income. But the plot only thickens from there. Should room-renters through sites like Airbnb be subject to hotel taxes? Should car-sharing drivers have to operate with a car services or taxi license?
Time will tell. Either way, sharing has evolved into much more than the timeless concept being taught in preschools across the country.
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