Ford Pilots ‘Free’ Car Scheme
Thousands of Ford customers are being tempted with the promise of driving a spanking new car at no cost.
The seemingly too good to be true offer does have a catch, however, as it involves the customer agreeing to rent out their car when it's not being used. The idea is that the customer can then make enough money to cover his or her car repayments. Ford is running the scheme as a pilot, in conjunction with easyCar Club, in order to find out how willing people would be to share their cars in order to earn some extra cash or pay for the cost of the vehicle.
The easyCar Club is just one of a number of ventures which is taking hold in what is being called the ‘sharing economy’. The club is set up to allow those without a car to rent time in vehicles from car owners nearby. The money goes straight to the owner of the car, not to Ford, so it is really up to the owner how often they rent out their car and how much money they make. On average, though, a rental will cost around £35 and the owner will earn around £150 per month. This equates to only around four rentals per month, so clearly there is a lot of scope to increase this figure. It is also up to the owner how much they want to charge, but the site uses the HMRC-suggested mileage rate for employees using their own cars for work business, which is 45p. That means that the average car is covering around 333 miles per month on rental journeys. Owners will have to consider the money they earn through the scheme in comparison to the wear and tear on the car and the drop in value associated with the higher mileage when it comes time to sell on the car.
For the moment, Ford is restricting the scheme to owners in London, possibly because of the increased potential for rental business in the capital, but the company has high hopes that the scheme will catch on. They point out that most cars spend the vast majority of their lives parked and not being driven, so the scheme has the potential to take advantage of this downtime and make car ownership far more efficient and economical.
The Ford scheme is just one way that car owners can make money from their cars. Other approaches include the growing popularity of car-share schemes. Here, the car owner advertises journeys where he or she has spare seats. These seats are then sold at a rate which is often far cheaper for the passenger than the equivalent bus or rail fare and often more convenient in terms of pick-up and drop-off, too. There are now a large number of websites that specialise in arranging such ride shares. The most famous of these is perhaps Uber, which works with professional drivers but also with private individuals through UberPop. Uber has been controversial, with many taxi drivers claiming that it is harming their business. Recent demonstrations in France have seen burning tyres and overturned cars as taxi drivers vent their anger.
Even those without cars can make money from those who have them. A recent phenomenon involves owners of driveways renting them out to motorists who want to park in them. These driveways are typically in busy urban areas close to offices, where commuters can park their cars at less than the cost of parking in nearby car parks or on the street. In London, this is netting the owners of driveways around £810 per year on average.
The sharing economy has caught on rapidly, at least partly as a reaction to the recent financial crisis. It is also seen as an environmentally friendly phenomenon, increasing the occupancy rate of cars and allowing more car journeys to be made without manufacturing more cars.