You may not have noticed, but the rental car industry has changed, maybe more than you think.

The catalyst is mobile technology, which continues to evolve from the kinds of apps that have propelled home sharing (like Airbnb) and ride sharing (like Uber) into standard public acceptance. It’s another viable outlet for workers looking to tap into the “gig economy” and for riders who may desire an option to traditional rental car companies with more routing, scheduling, and economic flexibility.

Let’s call this new business model peer-to-peer car rental, which—through an app—connects car owners looking to lend out their vehicles with individuals looking to rent transportation for a short period of time. Just like Airbnb allows homeowners to list their properties, peer-to-peer rental apps allow car owners to list their vehicles. Users search for available cars based on location, price, and other preferences.

Mobile technology also provides a way for owners to upload photos and descriptions of their vehicles, set rental rates, communicate with potential renters, and display ratings. Technologies such as GPS, online reviews, and messaging systems increase trust and communication between hosts and guests, especially important because the buck stops with the person who is renting out their car.

Here’s a list of four of the most popular peer-to-peer sharing apps currently available.

Though both are powered by mobile technology, and share some surface characteristics, the peer-to-peer vehicle rental process differs from Uber-type ride sharing in several ways:

  • Ownership: Peer-to-peer car rentals involve individuals renting out their personal vehicles to others, while ride-sharing services are typically provided by drivers using their own vehicles to transport passengers.
  • Duration: Peer-to-peer car rentals are typically for longer-term use, such as for a day or a few days, while ride-sharing services are for shorter, point-to-point trips.
  • Control: In peer-to-peer car rentals, renters have more control over where they go, when they go, and how long they use the vehicle, as they are essentially borrowing the car for a specific period of time. In contrast, ride-sharing passengers rely on drivers to take them to their destinations.
  • Cost structure: Peer-to-peer car rentals usually charge a daily or hourly rate for the use of the vehicle, while ride-sharing services like Uber charge based on distance traveled and time spent in the vehicle.

To summarize, peer-to-peer car rentals offer a flexible and customizable transportation option for individuals who need a vehicle for a specific period of time, while ride-sharing services like Uber provide convenient on-demand transportation for shorter trips.

Now, while SSCS may not be in the ride- or home-sharing business, we are certainly a big fan of mobile apps and the convenience they provide our c-store users, which is why we’ve been building them since the hazy, historical days of the DOS operating system. Our latest handheld apps, HHS2 and Lottery Management, capitalize on modern mobile operating systems and benefit from our over 40 years of providing robust tech than can stand up to the rigors of in-store work, while providing on-person software convenience. If you’re interested in exploring what this brave new world of mobility can do for your store, please call us at 800-727-9927 and ask us!