Californians Get to Rent Their Cars to Strangers

Ride sharing takes on a whole new meaning today, thanks to a law signed by Governor Schwarzenegger — and a startup called Spride Share is poised to cash in.

Spride Share


Looking for a painless way to make some extra cash? Consider renting out your car to strangers. Spride Share, a Bay Area-based startup, allows California vehicle owners to share their cars with pre-screened Spride Share members. Think of it as Zipcar, but with personal cars. And now that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed CA Assembly Bill 1871
into law this week, vehicle owners can participate in the service without violating their insurance policies.

Folks in London have been doing this for a while now with WhipCar, but Spride Share starts a trial service today with a dozen participants in the Bay Area, according to GigaOm. Next year, Spride Share plans to expand the service to all 13,000 members of City CarShare, a local nonprofit that aims to increase access to transportation.

For renters, the process is simple: They are given a key fob that opens the vehicle when held over the car’s windshield. The actual vehicle key is located near the ignition switch. Renters can simply return the vehicle to its designated parking spot when they finish using it.

Vehicle owners have to install a piece of hardware (the “car sharing device”) that gives access, tracks mileage, records access times, and makes sure the car is working correctly. And if the car gets in an accident, Spride Share provides supplemental insurance that covers the vehicle owner, the car, and the person renting the car at the time of the incident. Drivers are also responsible for paying tickets and traffic violations.

It’s a fairly lucrative trade-off for vehicle owners–Spride Share estimates that
someone renting out a sedan for 20 hours a week could make $4,000 each
year. A luxury car owner could make $7,200 during the same period.


With so many safeguards in place, Spride Share’s scheme might just work–presuming there are enough cars out there laying fallow, and enough cash-hungry owners willing to share.

Ariel Schwartz can be reached on Twitter or by email.


About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more.