Carsharing: Drive a Car without Having to Own It

Carsharing: Drive a Car without Having to Own It

Do you own a car that you don’t use every day? Or do you not have a car, but sometimes need one? Carsharing may well be the perfect solution for you.

4. 1. 2019 eMobility

Awareness of carsharing as a sharing-economy phenomenon is spreading, with more and more people no longer viewing cars as a status symbol that is not to be lent at any cost. The practicality of carsharing is slowly but surely coming into its own as people think of the costs associated with owning a vehicle or how seldom they actually need to use a car. How do people view carsharing and how will this service evolve?

Carsharing can be split into two basic types. The first is your common-or-garden P2P (peer-to-peer), i.e. sharing between individual users. The second is what is known as free-floating carsharing, with cars that belong to a legal entity. In this case, a fleet of cars is deployed directly on to the streets in a certain area, where they are available for people to rent.

“The cars of other private individuals tend to be borrowed for holidays or for the weekend, while fleets are more often used to get around the city, as a sort of taxi or public transport substitute,” explains Peter Dörner, a P2P carsharing expert at ŠKODA AUTO DigiLab. The ŠKODA AUTO DigiLab is an innovation lab located in Prague, which focuses on the next stage mobility, connectivity and digitalization.

Petr Dörner
P2P carsharing expert


‘Uniqway’ is the car-sharing platform for students that is unique in Europe. The service is now available to all students and teaching staff from the Czech Technical University, the University of Economics in Prague as well as from the Czech University of Life Sciences. ŠKODA AUTO Czech Republic and ŠKODA AUTO DigiLab allowed this platform to be developed.

Who will be able to access carsharing?

For many, the attitude “my car, my castle” continues to hold true, and it would be unthinkable for them to lend their car to a stranger or borrow someone else’s. However, this mindset is receding, particularly among the younger generation, where regular carsharers are most likely to be found.

Typical carsharing users are between the ages of 20 and 45 living in a larger city who usually get around on public transport, a bicycle or a scooter. They use a shared car for weekend trips to see family or travel to events out of town. Owners of shared cars are, on average, a little older and usually have two to three cars at home. They take this pragmatic attitude that renting a car out several times a month will recoup them the running costs that come with car ownership.


ŠKODA AUTO and the ŠKODA AUTO DigiLab are facilitating the new car-sharing platform, Uniqway, which is the only one of its kind in Europe. The special thing about the service is that students from three universities in Prague have helped to shape it.

“These are mostly people who are well past the stage of owning their very first car, the love of their life that they mollycoddle and refuse to let anyone else drive,” says Dörner as he describes a typical carsharing owner. Even those who are sceptical about carsharing, who would never actually lend anyone their car, may find themselves going down the carsharing route, in that they might be tempted to rent a larger car for a vacation or to move houses.

According to ŠKODA AUTO DigiLab’s calculations, carsharing is worth it for people who travel a maximum of 15,000 kilometres per year. An important user group is people who, say, commute to work in a large city by train. It is pointless for them to have a car, and they don’t want to pay for parking, so they can just borrow a shared car for other trips into town.


How does carsharing work?

In the Czech Republic, ŠKODA AUTO DigiLab operates the HoppyGo P2P carsharing platform, which currently has more than 40,000 registered users who can rent or offer cars via a mobile app.

The app’s certainty, safety, speed and user-friendliness, says Dörner, are the four main requirements of people venturing into the shared economy. By speed, we mean the time between placing an order and getting confirmation of a vehicle. “We have found that if a car request goes more than two hours without a response, the user is highly likely to cancel it and look elsewhere,” explains Dörner. “No one wants the uncertainty of having to wait for, let’s say, five hours to see if they will get a car,” he explains. This situation can be avoided by the “reserve immediately” feature, which skips the need for the car owner’s confirmation to complete the booking. After each ride, both the owner and the driver evaluate each other on aspects such as the speed of communication, which makes it easier for subsequent users to navigate their way around the offers available.

In the sharing app, you can find a car that to pick up literally around the corner, so it’s not as if you have to get to some branch on the other side of the city as you would with a conventional car rental company. Also, the range of cars is often broader, depending on whether you want a particular car to get a feel for it, an impressive-looking car for business trips, or a practical vehicle for a family holiday or to move house.


01-icon 01  REGISTER 
We would like to get to know you. Firstly, fill in basic personal info or provide it by signing up via Facebook. However, should you want to become a part of the community and rent a car, we will have to verify your ID card and driver's license.
02-icon 02  CHOOSE A CAR
Find the ideal car in the ideal location and time. When you have your front-runner, simply book it. Don’t forget to check reviews of cars and its owners – by this feature, we try to ensure your satisfaction.
03-icon 03  ASK FOR CAR 
Once you picked a car, the owner of the car has 24 hours to confirm your request. You will also need to agree on the place and time of handover. By confirmation of these information your request becomes binding reservation.
04-icon 04  TAKE OVER THE CAR 
Afterwards, you will meet with the owner, hand over the car and will pay through the application. When hand over, fill in state of the vehicle, including the tachometer and fuel level.
05-icon 05  ENJOY YOUR RIDE 
Hurray! Now you have a perfect car according to your requirements and you are ready for your new adventure!
06-icon 06  RETURN THE CAR 
Every trip has its end, once you’ll finish yours, clean the car, refuel and return the car in the state you rent it. Do not forget to let others know how you were satisfied with the car and the owner’s approach.

What to watch out for

Anyone interested in carsharing would do well to explore the wide-ranging tips, ideas and recommendations detailed in the blog written in conjunction with HoppyGo, the biggest Czech P2P carsharing service. Here they will also find a manual describing the carsharing stages, explaining what to look out for and not to overlook.

“The most important thing is to be careful during handover,” says Petr Dörner, pointing out that when you are taking over or returning a car you must take several pictures of both the exterior and the interior. This gives both the owner and the driver the assurance that, if a problem does crop up, they will be able to clearly identify when and how it happened and, if necessary, refer a claim to the insurer. It is also important to verify that the person coming to pick up the car is the one who actually placed the order by checking their driving licence. Owners who believe that a driver is untrustworthy have the right not to hand over their car. Owners may also choose whether to allow the animals or smoking in the car, or whether to let the car be taken abroad.

Unlike a conventional car rental company, carsharing does not require reams of paperwork. Contracts are created automatically in the app, along with the electronic handover report. You photograph the vehicle, record the amount of fuel in the tank and the mileage, and the renter can go happily on their way.


What is the future of carsharing?

As our ideas of and approach to car ownership continue to evolve, the number of carsharers is forecast to keep rising. Asked if sharing is the future for everyone, Dörner answers: “Of course there will always be people who need their car every day, so carsharing will not be relevant to them.”

For the rest of us, ŠKODA AUTO DigiLab is preparing a solution. According to Dörner, the goal is to provide comprehensive mobility services: “If I need to take a longer trip, it is more convenient to travel by train. But, once at my destination, I can then rent a car with a scooter stowed in it in order to get around the city centre fast and easily. I can make all the necessary arrangements in a single app.”