Combining car rental with the sharing economy can make a positive change for the Bristol community

Andy Hibbert
CEO / Founder | Karshare
23rd July 2020
Member roleChamber member

The Covid-19 crisis has had a significant impact on us all, both as individuals and communities.

Aside from the direct consequences for public health, many people across the Bristol area have been suffering from reduced employment opportunities and heightened financial anxiety. Lockdown may be over, but the problems caused by the pandemic remain.

In June we conducted a survey on Bristol residents, and found that more than half had seen their income decrease due to the pandemic. 55% had to reassess their household outgoings in response to the crisis. Clearly, the consequences of Covid have been severe.

One of the key costs that most households must address is ongoing car upkeep. On average, the annual cost of owning a car in the UK is £5,500. This includes depreciation, servicing, repairs, fuel, insurance and parking. Given cars sit idle 96% of the time it seems an outgoing that’s hard to justify right now. These costs, combined with growing community sentiment towards sustainability and enacting positive societal change, are causing local residents to rethink the value of car ownership. In Bristol, 42% of people are no longer sure if they even need to keep their vehicle anymore.

45% of Bristol residents in our survey also claimed they now feel a greater sense of community, with people more willing to share possessions and skills with each other as a consequence of lockdown. More than one quarter state that, in the right conditions, they would even be willing to share their car – something which, for many people, would have seemed unthinkable just a couple of years ago.

So can investing in the sharing economy help us to emerge stronger, as a more unified and resilient community? And is it possible for cash-strapped citizens in the Bristol area to act on this impulse to share and actively start renting out their vehicles to others?

Here at Karshare we offer a car-sharing solution for both car owners, who want to increase their income, and for drivers who would prefer not to own a car themselves, helping to cut down on the excess of vehicles in Bristol city centre while still enabling everyone to get to where they need.

We launched Karshare at the start of lockdown, when we quickly recognised a need to help key frontline workers, many of whom were under a huge amount of stress, to gain access to safe and flexible transport to and from work. We established a fleet of 150 cars in Bristol, on loan from members of the local community, to be used by health workers, care workers, charity workers, food bank and NHS volunteers, absolutely free of charge. We took care of the insurance, cleaning of vehicles and roadside assistance.

As the area has slowly moved out of lockdown, we’ve been able to embark on a new phase and have launched Karshare to the whole of the Bristol community. Keyworkers can still access cars donated by the community, but we are making paid-for car sharing and renting available to everyone.

Our smart technology allows car owners to rent out their car effortlessly, knowing that Karshare will track the vehicle and manage the process through the App. Owners do not have to meet the renters because of our secure keyless technology, KarshareGo. A boon for both owners, who can make a little bit more money in these difficult times, and for renters, who don’t want the hassle of owning a vehicle and who would rather pay members of their community than a large, corporate car rental firm.

By facilitating this exchange, we can help to convert people’s worries about loss of income into a more positive feeling of solidarity in the community. Sharing an unused car with a neighbour to make extra cash, or even selling a second family car and hiring one locally as and when needed, can become a viable option for the many thousands of Bristolians who typically only make short or infrequent car journeys around the local area.

As we develop a new future as Bristolians, it is important to keep in mind the positive changes that have emerged from the crisis. The super-charging of the sharing economy is one such silver lining, and represents an opportunity for us to come together as we move forwards as a community. As Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees terms it, we need to “rebuild back better”.

The importance of car-sharing in this equation is perhaps best summarised by frontline worker, David Allen, Catering Department Supervisor at Southmead Hospital in Bristol. According to Allen, "Having use of a free car during the crisis has been incredibly helpful and made the task of getting to work straightforward and stress-free... The positive side [of the crisis] has been seeing how organisations like Karshare, and all the local car owners, have given back to the community. I'm happy to support them in the future; I'd much rather pay a member of the community to hire their car than a car hire company."

For more information about our scheme or if you’d like to participate, please visit We hope to hear from you soon!

Andy Hibbert
Founder at Karshare

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