Residents of Bondi, Bronte and Paddington have been the first in Australia to experience neighbour-to-neighbour car-sharing through local start-up, Car Next Door.
It’s a concept that’s already running successfully overseas, and which promises benefits
for people’s hip pockets, health, and the environment. Car Owners who join the platform get a small device (nicknamed “Fred”) installed in their car, set an hourly and daily rate for it, and then list their car’s availability on the online booking platform.
What next? “It’s really simple,” says Car Next Door CEO and Bronte local Will Davies. “You just leave your car where it’s normally parked. Borrowers look online for a vehicle near them, and book it. They can swipe in and drive – there’s no need to exchange keys.”
Danni, a Bondi resident and Car Next Door borrower, has ditched the costs of car ownership for the flexibility of pay-by-the-hour car access. “I ride my bicycle everywhere,” says Danni. “I only need to
use a car once every couple of weeks. If I do need a car, I can rent one for an hour or two from a neighbour, and it only costs me five or ten dollars. For me, it makes a lot of sense.”
Sarah, who lives near Bondi Beach, has listed her car for rent through Car Next Door. “I catch the bus to work, so my car used to sit by the kerb most of time doing nothing,” she says. “Renting my car out helps to offset the costs of owning it. I also like the fact that it helps others in the community who don’t own a car, but may need to use one now and then.”
Neighbour-to-neighbour car-sharing is also a winner for health and the environment. Research from the U.S. has found that car-sharers drive on average 40% less than car owners. They tend to walk, ride or use public transport more often, and use cars as a backup. This means more activity for them, and less pollution and congestion for Bondi. “We’re all about saving people money, building community, and helping the environment,” says Davies. “Anyone who lives in Sydney can tell you that there are way too many cars around. We think this is part of the solution.”