Born to help solve the issues associated with underused vehicles, Car Next Door was the first peer to-peer car share network in Australia. Carsharing is a way to solve problems related to mobility and traffic congestion, especially in large cities. In fact, the main Australian problem is high car dependency, so Car Next Door works well in the inner areas of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
CND’s community manager, Will Davies, was looking to start a new business that had a really positive impact on the environment: something that reduced the amount of greenhouse gas caused by human activities. Car Next Door offers people the “mobility-possibility” of having a car nearby when you need it, at a much lower cost than owning one.
Of course, there may be some problems with this mode of sharing, particularly related to the interaction between users. The company addresses the lack of trust and ease that would otherwise discourage people from sharing their cars with others by:
– providing an online forum where vehicle owners and borrowers are registered, vetted, and approved;
– providing a feedback system whereby vehicle condition and member behavior can be assessed and reported by other members;
– providing in-car technology that enables keyless access to the car and a web-based automated reservation platform;
– providing in-car GPS technology that tracks the location of the car, reducing the risk of theft and misuse of the vehicle;
– providing insurance that covers owners and borrowers; and – manage payments between owners and borrowers.
Analysis of design principles:
The Car Next Door project reflects one of the five design principles identified by the co-city methodology.
We cannot define Car Next Door as an organization with a multistakeholder governance scheme because it has only active collaboration with some actors in the private sector, but we can think of some aspects:
– Private actors: as Kate Trumbull confirms, the platform is owned by several shareholders, including the founders, Caltex and Hyundai. Car Next Door has signed a deal with the world’s fifth-largest carmaker, in which its app will be installed on all new Hyundai cars sold in Australia. Partnerships like this are really crucial to the long-term success of Car Next Door.
– NGO: Car Next Door has a partnership with an Australian non-profit organization called “Greenfleet “: When someone borrows a car through Car Next Door, all the carbon emissions from driving are offset through indigenous reforestation projects throughout Australia.
– Community groups: The community does not have decisional power inside the platform organization, but they are involved in the sense that they own and maintain the cars and borrow them. The community joins CND not only for economic reasons but also for civic care of the urban commons and a specific attention to the environment.
The state and local government in Australian cities in this case are far from embracing what Michele Finck and Sofia Ranchord (2016) call a horizontal approach with actors, still using a command-and-control approach.
Rather, the relationship with the state is quite mono-directional: from Car Next Door come the request to incentivise carsharing with reserved parking in the cities.
Under the City of Sydney’s car sharing policy, the city can list online the location of private vehicles participating in peer-to-peer car sharing, provided the peer-to-peer operator has entered into a written agreement with the city regarding vehicle availability and conditions and provides regular reports on usage.
Social and economic pooling
It completely represents the “pool” concept by avoiding exclusive ownership of cars and it perfectly embodies the “share” concept by sharing it with members of one’s community. People who share their cars participate in the pooling economy, particularly being part of a “collaborative economy” related to the promotion of a peer-to-peer approach that follows the transformation of customers/users into a community.
They were the first to provide peer-to-peer car sharing services in Australia, so they are pioneers in this area. Their main innovation is in the way they provide unattended access to cars using the electronic lockbox, a product designed to resist theft and environmental conditions. Theoretically, the project could be absolutely scalable and replicable in every motorized community in the world. However, in practice, attempts have been made to adapt the project in a small regional city, Newcastle, but there has not been much take-up.
The digital platform enables collaboration among members of a community, using apps or web apps to match drivers to passengers and even cars. Using existing vehicles, they aim to increase mobility. However, they do not explore any solutions to bridge the digital divide. Access to the Car NextDoor service is provided to anyone with a smartphone and good connectivity.
Referring to the case study of CND, we can define it as a “sharing enterprise.” According to the definition provided by Sheila Foster and Christian Iaione (2016), it is an enterprise intending to contribute to the solution of social problems (such as economy, welfare, culture, environment, and traffic) through sharing practices.
Ultimately, CND is a sharing practice between the narrow definition of genuine sharing economy that excludes those primarily driven by profit.
The state, along with local governments, needs to explore how to facilitate these initiatives and how cities should rethink them to embrace beneficial sharing economy practices.
In this context, car sharing is an established transportation service that could combat car dependence, even in Australia, where the level of car dependence is high.
The Car Next Door is a community-based mobility service that, together with an increased supply of networked alternatives, could change the mobility paradigm to meet society’s current and future needs. The initiative grows community cohesion, solves the mobility problem, and helps the environment by optimizing how cars are used in the city.