'Car sharing; latest in collaborative consumption

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by ERIC WILKINSON / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on January 14, 2012 at 6:53 PM

Camille Wing has to get to work, but her car has literally blown a gasket. So, here she shivers, wrapped in blanket and clutching her coffee at a Renton bus stop.

"We're doing the bus," she said with a chuckle.

A rental car would cost Wing $30 or $40 a day. To her it seems a shame when there are plenty of perfectly good cars sitting in driveways doing nothing.

"Transportation would make my feet very happy because by the time this is over and done with today, my feet are going to be very cold and very wet and I'm going to be miserable," she said.

Enter: "car sharing." Companies like GetAround.Com are connecting people who need wheels with people who have them. The car owner sets the rental rate, Getaround gets a cut, and the renter gets that truck he needs to move this weekend. It's different from outfits like Zipcar in that private people own the cars, giving renters a wider variety. Get Around's site offers everything from a $6/hour Prius to a $75/hour Tesla Roadster.

Companies like Get Around screen renters for criminal backgrounds, but there have been instances in California where people have stolen cars. Then there's the question of insurance. Who get covered by whom and when?

State Rep. Zack Hudgins (D. 11th Dist.) is pushing a bill in Olympia right now that would codify some of those questions. According the the proposed law, which would clear the road for car sharing in Washington, the renter's insurance would be covered by companies like Get Around. If the car gets stolen -- that's the owner's problem. Peer-to-peer car rentals are already in place in Oregon and California and Hudgins thinks the idea can work here.

"We're going to bring new businesses into the state. We're going to take some pressure off of our roads and help the environment. And we're going to put money into people's pockets when they rent the cars and get the services," he said.

Portland is currently a test market for for car sharing.  Legislators in Olympia are holding hearings regarding insurance issues this week, and hope to have the service available before the end of the year.

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