Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

SnappCar, a car ridesharing platform

2 November 2018


Lately, I have had some trouble with my 2007 Mercedes: airco, low engine coolant, and a hole in its radiator. The (official) car dealer refused to repair the aluminium radiator and insisted on buying a new one. Total expenses of a repair seemed excessive compared to the market value. Hence, I sold my car and looked for alternatives. This week I used SnappCar, a car ridesharing platform.

Essentially, SnappCar operates the same as car rental companies like Avis, Budget, EuropCar and Hertz. The main difference is ownership. Car rental companies run car fleets of thousands of vehicles. SnappCar is offering peer-to-peer ridesharing between an individual car owner and an individual car user. There were even some 5 SnappCars in my immediate neighbourhood !

I must admit that I had never heard of SnappCar, despite my career in Automotive. This Dutch peer-to-peer carsharing company was founded in 2011, operates in Denmark, Germany, Netherlands and Sweden (coy info), and had 400,000 members in 2017 (coy info).

I doubt that SnappCar is a disruptive innovation to the car rental market. Short-term car rides are relatively (very) expensive for car rental companies. Their relatively high fixed cost structure is reflected in (higher) daily and (lower) weekly rates. SnappCar is an addition to the car rental market, similar as Airbnb was/is to the hotel industry. EuropCar’s 20% minority stake in SnappCar confirms my view (coy info).

A recent Dutch newspaper article mentions the main reasons why carsharing is still not a success despite existing for 25 years: availability and flexibility. People get “nervous” of not having a car when they do need it (VK). As a result, the average car is idle for 23 hours daily (SnappCar) and parked 95% of the time (Forbes).

My SnappCar experience was positive although I was not pleased with its Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) offers. The recommended and default CDW still leaves an “own risk” of 750 euro which is extremely high compared to my daily rate of some 50 euro. Not selecting the default CDW would save 20 euro but would increase your “own risk” to 2,250 euro.

For the time being, I will continue my SnappCar experience given my (very) low annual car mileage. My occasional need for a car does not warrant renting, leasing or owning a car.

Since 1908, car manufacturers have been able to make a mass-produced commodity still appeal to our self-chosen identity.

Cars are finally becoming what they have always been: a (transport) commodity. This tipping point will have far-reaching consequences.

Drive (1984) by The Cars

artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Who’s gonna drive you home tonight?

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless stated otherwise


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