Very few people use their cars to anything like their fullest possible extent. If you use your vehicle to commute, it may be on the road for a couple of hours a day, albeit practically empty. Other car owners might take their vehicles out only a handful of times a week.
What this means is that there is an over-supply of cars in society – and this is an issue that a number of sharing-economy services have been set up to address and exploit.
For example, let’s say you drive 30 miles every day to and from work alone along a busy commuter route. Wouldn’t it be better if you could share your ride with someone else who could split your fuel cost, reduce overall emissions and give you a bit of company?
This is where the likes of Liftshare.com or BlaBlaCar.com come in: here, drivers and people seeking lifts can input details of their journeys to find a match. The site then works out a fair price for the trip based on the distance travelled – but from a passenger’s point of view, it is likely to be significantly cheaper than driving themselves or taking the train, for instance.
Taking extra passengers isn’t the only way of using up more of your car’s spare capacity: there are now parcel-delivery services in the sharing economy which pay drivers for taking packages with them on any trips they happen to be making.
One of them is a Norwegian firm called Nimber, which has just set up in the UK. It works in the same way as Liftshare and BlaBlaCar, matching people who need items delivering with drivers who are already planning to make a similar journey.
If you have some spare room on your driveway and you live near a station, airport or hospital, or in a city centre, you could be able to get a steady income from people in need of somewhere to park.
Rent out your vehicle
It is now also possible to rent out your car to other people when you aren’t using it. While many vehicle owners may think this is a step too far, it does make economic sense for your motor to be used as much as possible.
In Britain, easyCarClub is the pioneer of this type of service: it says that car owners can earn up to £3,000 a year, while renters can expect to get a much cheaper deal than from traditional car-hire firms.
Earn a living from your car
The best-known sharing-economy firm in the motor sector is Uber, the on-demand car service that is disrupting the traditional taxi industry. The idea behind Uber is that anyone can become a driver and make a decent income from offering rides to paying customers. Zopa is now helping Uber drivers finance cars, offering low-cost loans to buy vehicles.
Uber is facing one or two regulatory hurdles in other countries at the moment, but its speed of growth and the fact it generally offers consumers a good deal means these are likely to be overcome.
The sharing economy has created lots of new opportunities for us to make money from our vehicles, so next time you jump in your car to drive to work or to the shops, it’s definitely worth thinking about whether you can drive up your income at the same time.