How Irish motorists can earn a significant profit on their vehicle through an 'Airbnb for cars' 1 year ago

How Irish motorists can earn a significant profit on their vehicle through an 'Airbnb for cars'

Irish businessman Maurice Sheehy is looking to transform the car rental market in the same way that Airbnb has revolutionised the housing market around the world.

Irish motorists could potentially earn thousands of euro by sharing their vehicle with their peers in the same way that homeowners have been opening their doors to strangers through Airbnb in recent times.

The founder of peer-to-peer car rental app Fleet, Wicklow native Maurice Sheehy, is looking to tap into a market in Ireland that has already been exploited by the likes of Turo, a car rental marketplace in the United States.

Hundreds of thousands of Irish people are vehicle owners, but not all of them use their vehicles on a daily basis. Fleet is looking to target owners who would rather earn a few quid by sharing their vehicle with others rather than having it parked for most of the week.

The earning potential for vehicle owners is just one of the selling points behind Fleet, which launched in July of this year and aims to remove some of the hassle and inconvenience that one might associate with renting a car through traditional methods.

There’s no paperwork, no queuing in an office waiting to get your hands on a set of keys and, like Airbnb, all communication is between the owner and the renter, currently through the Fleet app, but it will soon be possible to list, view and rent vehicles on the Fleet website.

It’s early days yet, but Fleet is already taking off at a speed that has taken those involved in the company by surprise, with accessibility proving a big draw and zero negative incidents having been reported to date.

“We're live four months and we haven't had a single incident,” Sheehy told JOE.

"You have the trust and review side of things, like that of Airbnb, where the quality of users we're getting are working professionals.

“They've used a similar service before, they want the social aspect of it, they want to meet people and have a chat and find out where's nice to go in the area or get a nice car for the weekend they might not usually be able to afford.”

Fleet users looking to make a rental can do so through the app and touch base with the owner.

Users message each other, organise a time, pick up the keys and go. People registering on the app have to provide their driving license and the renter’s identity is verified by Fleet’s insurance partners, AXA Ireland.

The insurance issue, which sceptics might see as the biggest source of concern, is actually less complicated than one might think.

The policy implemented by AXA Ireland supersedes any existing policy of the owner and renter of a vehicle during the rental period. It is fully comprehensive and includes 24-hour breakdown assistance.

Owners and renters of a vehicle are required to complete a checklist before a renter drives the vehicle and while someone currently has to be present to complete the checklist with a renter, Fleet is exploring the option of open drive technology, which would enable a renter to access an owner’s car using their smartphone, via a smart device installed on the car.

The requirements for car owners who are in a position to make their car available and want to make a few quid out of it are fairly simple.

The car has to be less than 13 years old and it has to be taxed and have a valid NCT certificate. It doesn’t even have to be insured, but if it’s not, the owner of the vehicle has to provide the driver with the insurance policy and the rental agreement from Fleet so the person renting the car can prove that the car is insured during the rental period.

As far as renters are concerned, meanwhile, a full driving license is required, while motorists with more than four penalty points, motorists with a driving conviction and motorists who have made a claim in the last five years are currently ineligible to use the service.

As of the middle of October, over 200 bookings had been made via the Fleet app, which has been downloaded 15,000 times and has 9,000 active users.

It is entirely up to vehicle owners to determine the rental price, while the only additional charges are a small insurance fee and the 10% commission which Fleet commands on every transaction.

Some vehicle owners using the app have already made a tidy profit.

"It (how much an owner can earn) all depends on the vehicle and how active the user is," says Sheehy.

“We've had a user that put up a vehicle and within the first week had accumulated over €1,400 in confirmed and pending bookings. To date, he has over €3,000 in bookings. If you make people aware in your locality that your vehicle is available to rent – if you've posted it on Facebook, for example, or sent it out to your email list – the types of people that are being more proactive are getting more rentals.

“If your car is only available one or two days a week, obviously that will limit your earning potential but if your car is available, say, Monday to Friday, it depends on the car, but on average we'd be guessing (one could make) around €3,500 per year with two days rental per week.”

To date, Fleet users have been having most success pricing their cars at around €40-50 a day, and while there are cars such as high-end Jaguars and Mercedes on the app for close to €200 a day, they haven’t proved as in-demand just yet due to the price.

As for Fleet themselves, they’re doing pretty well out of it too, with plans to launch in Northern Ireland in November and expansion into the UK market forecast for early next year.

He can’t disclose what they are just yet, but Sheehy also says that there are “big things coming down the line” for Fleet in 2018.

Watch this space.