WhipCar or how to rent one’s neighbour’s car, insurance included
par Elsa Sidawy | 11.06.10
WhipCar is one of the first car rental service to connect drivers who only use their car from time to time and people who would like to rent one nearby for less. Indeed the 29 million cars registered in the United Kingdom remain unused 23 h a day and cost their owners £ 5,523 per year. It seemed absurd to Tom Wright and Vinay Gupta, the two London founders of WhipCar, who had that idea as simple as brilliant while having a coffee and “watching the huge number of unused cars around us.”
At a time when cars are rather rejected outside the city – London became famous in 2003 for becoming the biggest metropolis to institute an urban toll in order to reduce traffic in the city centre and recently set up a bike hire scheme – the idea of WhipCar is to encourage people not to use their cars but to share vehicles that are already in use among several people. It is a vehicle-share system but a private one, in brief.
A rental agency with no actual agency
In practical terms, the service operates like any online car rental agency. The driver who wants to rent a vehicle makes a research, proceeds to the booking and online payment. It is at this stage of the process that the WhipCar founders remunerate themselves: though access to the base is free, “we get £ 2.50 out of each transaction completed by a driver and 15% fees when a driver actually rents a car through our service.”
As for owners, they decide themselves of the price of their renting out. In the end, both parties get to a meeting point to make the usual check and write it down before the owner leaves the key to his/her car to the tenant.
Unlimited car mileage, insurance included
The owner’s car thus pays for itself and the tenant does not have to worry about tons of forms full of incomprehensible clauses and take the risk of paying astronomical excess to rent a car for a few hours. But what happens then if an obvious scratch or a slightly loose rim causes trouble? During their one year of development, the creators have anticipated. “A one-of-its-kind insurance policy has been developed with Lloyd’s of London,” Tom Wright says. In practical terms, if an accident occurs, the owner’s insurance is not concerned therefore he/she does not get any increase in premium in the end: during the renting out, WhipCar’s partner insurance takes over responsibility. “This insurance prevails over basic insurance. In case of complaint, the owner’s basic insurance policy is not affected,” the founder adds.
The thousandth owner has been registered
The website was officially launched in April 2010. Within barely six months, Tom Wright can proudly announce that the platform has a database of 1,000 registered cars and hundreds of subscribers in 300 towns across the United Kingdom. We can easily imagine that the two founders want to shift into second gear: “Today WhipCar is only present in the United Kingdom but we have other great ideas,” Tom Wright drops without adding another word. All we know is that the two founders have been contacted by many local authorities to promote the system in their area.
In the United States, two other start-ups, Spride Share in the San Francisco region and RelayRides in Baltimore, have also launched their own concept of car-sharing among private individuals, with some slight difference from WhipCar.
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