Automakers increasingly are shifting gears from only selling vehicles to offering their own car-sharing rental businesses and ride-sharing services.
Car-sharing typically allows consumers to rent an automaker’s car for a short period of time, perhaps just a half hour. Ride-sharing matches people to available carpools or an Uber-like service that provides on-demand rides.
General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and others are exploring and expanding car-sharing and ride-sharing efforts, mindful of forecasts that the market for these services will grow.
GM’s European Opel brand recently launched the free car-sharing smartphone app CarUnity in Germany. It allows users — so far more than 5,000 — to offer their own cars for rent, even if it’s not an Opel. It also allows those without wheels to find a car.
Many car-sharing programs here and abroad require a membership fee and use of a smartphone app that allows users to locate and reserve a car. An ID card typically allows a member to unlock a car and start it with a code. Charges typically are by the minute, and insurance often is included. Daimler AG’s Car2Go subsidiary, for example, charges a $35 sign-up fee; rentals are 41 cents a minute, plus tax and fees.