In part one of our series on the most innovative transportation technologies you should know, we focused on a few of the more futuristic automobiles and advanced transportation machines currently in development. In part two, we’ll shift gears a bit and take a look at a handful of the most innovative transportation services that are currently making waves in the industry.
To kick off the list, we’ll start with a company that just about everyone has heard of at this point…
Uber has skyrocketed in popularity over the past few years and there’s a pretty good chance that you’re at least vaguely familiar with the California-based ride-sharing service. For anyone who hasn’t kept up on the tech news, Uber is a multi-million dollar company that uses smartphones help people find rides around town. In other words, Uber allows anyone with a smartphone and a car to act as a taxi driver — and earn some money for their troubles.
Meanwhile, anyone looking to catch a ride across town can virtually “hail” an Uber car using the Uber app. An Uber driver in the area will then see that a patron is nearby and can then come pick-up the passenger.
The main appeal of Uber is that it is more convenient than a traditional taxi cab. For example, users of Uber can track their car on the map as it approaches them for the pick-up, allowing them to wait inside and avoid the rain, snow, or other harsh conditions. In addition, all financial transactions go through the Uber app, which makes payment more convenient and helps users keep more detailed records of their expenses.
Uber has been met with some criticism — particularly from the taxi cab industry. A quick search online brings up numerous articles related to the backlash Uber has been receiving from taxis around the globe.
Whether you love it or hate it, there’s no denying that Uber is well on its way to overturning a number of longstanding practices in the transportation industry — and ruffling a few feathers in the process.
More Info: http://www.uber.com
Lyft is probably the most well-known competitor to Uber, although it’s no secret that their popularity pales in comparison. By and large, the service is nearly identical to Uber with only a few minor differences such as the presence of a glowing pink mustache on every Lyft car’s dashboard, an option to tip drivers through the Lyft smartphone app, and other small details that probably don’t affect the experience all that much anyways.
Even though Lyft is currently behind Uber in just about every measure of success, the company is worth noting here since they’ve played such a whole role in helping to bring peer-to-peer ride-sharing to the masses.
Even if the company goes under tomorrow, Uber and every other ride-sharing company from here on out owes a lot to Lyft for paving the way.
With that said, I’d be quite surprised that Lyft threw in the towel anytime soon. After all, just a few short months ago the company was reportedly valued at $2.5 billion — and even in silicon valley, that’s not chump change.
More Info: http://www.lyft.com
Capitalizing on the success of Uber and Lyft is a newer start-up known as “Breeze”.
Breeze operates in the same market area as Uber and Lyft — ride sharing — but the service is totally different. Instead of creating a mobile-based marketplace for drivers and passengers to find each other, Breeze focuses on assisting people who would like to participate in those marketplaces, but would otherwise lack the resources.
More specifically, Breeze offers people who want to drive for Uber or Lyft very flexible terms on car leases. How flexibile? Here’s what’s posted on the Breeze website:
…our terms are crazy flexible, giving you the option to return your car at any time with just two weeks’ notice, after an initial four week period.
It’s pretty easy to see how this could be a pretty tempting deal for anyone who wants to “test the waters” as a peer-to-peer driver, especially for those who don’t yet own a car and would otherwise need to sink thousands of dollars into purchasing a vehicle long before picking up their first passenger.
Of course, using Breeze as the launching pad for your ride-sharing driver career doesn’t come without a few drawbacks. Notably, the main drawback is a pretty steep rental cost. To use Breeze in the Seattle area, for example, the website shows an initial membership cost of $99, plus a WEEKLY cost of $195. This means that if you wanted to rent a car through Breeze and drive it for Uber/Lyft, you’d pay $10,239 in the first year alone — and that doesn’t include gas, car insurance, or routine maintenance.
With that in mind, over the long term, it’s probably better to just outright buy a vehicle if you plan on driving for a ride-share full-time.
Nevertheless, if you don’t have wheels and are looking to fast track your driving career, Breeze might offer just what you’re looking for to get started.
More info: https://www.joinbreeze.com/
Formerly known as “RelayRides”, Turo is a service which allows people to rent out their vehicles to other Turo users.
Users who rent their cars out can earn up to $47,000 per year, according to Turo’s official site. Now, of course, that estimate is based off of renting out a $75,000 car for 30 days every month. In other words, you would need to buy something like a brand new Tesla and then rent it out every day of the year in order to earn that sort of cash.
A more reasonable expectation of income from renting out your car through Turo would be around $4,664 annually, which is an estimate based off of renting out a $20K car for 10 days per month. You can run the numbers for your particular situation here.
On the other side, users who rent cars through Turo enjoy a much larger selection of vehicle choices than what is typically available at a traditional rental agency. In addition, prices are up to 30% less through Turo and some owners will deliver their cars to the renter on demand — a pretty sweet perk.
There are — of course — a number of legal issues surrounding peer-to-peer car rental services, but for now most of the risk seems to be on the side of the car owner, as opposed to the renter. More specifically, there are ongoing questions about who would be responsible if damage claims exceed Turo’s $1 million insurance coverage on cars rented through the service. Something you may want to keep in mind if the idea of earning a little extra cash through your spare or idle vehicle sounds appealing.
Nevertheless, it’s a pretty neat idea that may be worth considering the next time you find yourself in need of a rental.
More info: https://turo.com/
Coming in at number five on our list is a company called BlaBlaCar
Founded in 2006, the somewhat strangely named company isn’t yet active in the United States, but it has nonetheless become quite successful in carving out its own niche in the ride-sharing market over the past nine years.
BlaBlaCar differs from many of the other ride-sharing companies by tailoring to those looking for “city-to-city” journeys, as opposed those looking for a ride across town.
One article described BlaBlaCar’s concept as “hitchhiking for the 21st century”, which seems like a pretty fitting description considering you’ll be riding with a complete stranger for a fairly lengthy period of time and will likely need to hitch rides with a few people to get to your ultimate destination — sounds a lot like hitchhiking to me.
Even without a presence in the U.S., BlaBlaCar has managed to build up quite a successful resume, including being present in 19 countries, acquiring eight of its competitors, and amassing a user base of approximately 20 million people.
With figures like that, I wouldn’t be surprised to see BlaBlaCar attempt to make the leap to the U.S. market sometime in the near future.
More Info: https://www.blablacar.com
Rounding out the list is “Zipcar”, a type of rental car company which is yet another twist on the traditional rental car company.
The Zipcar model allows Zipcar members to reserve cars by-the-hour, in a seamless way that doesn’t require any paperwork, physical credit card transactions, or even a face-to-face meeting.
The process works like this:
- Join Zipcar
- Find a car close to you (using the Zipcar site, mobile app, or through a phone call)
- Hold your so-called “Zipcard” to the windshield of the vehicle to unlock it
- Return the vehicle to where you got it from when you’re done
In terms of pricing, Zipcar seems extraordinarily competitive. Members pay 7$ per month and then an additional amount for each hour they drove a Zipcar vehicle. The price per hour will vary based off which car is rented.
As an example, in the Seattle area, I was able to find multiple cars that were available to rent for $8.25 per hour. Considering that this rate includes gas and car insurance, that seems like a pretty great deal.
It’s important to point out that the Zipcar model isn’t positioned as just an alternative to a traditional rental company. Rather, the model seems better aligned with the lifestyle of a person who doesn’t own a car of his or her own. That is, instead of paying thousands of dollars to own a car, plus the additional cost of hundreds of dollars per month for gas and car insurance, a Zipcar member can have a car when they really need it and yet save thousands of dollars over what they would pay to outright own a vehicle.
One other noteworthy benefit of Zipcar membership is that members have access to varying types of cars, so they can choose whichever car best fits the task at hand. SUV’s can be rented when you have a few friends to drive around or are picking up some furniture on Craigslist, while smaller more compact vehicles can be chosen when you’ll be taking a trip into the city with limited parking.
Perhaps the biggest downside of Zipcar is its availability. While the service has been growing like crazy and is now available in most major cities in the United States, you’ll probably be out of luck if you live in a smaller city or in a more rural area.
Nevertheless, for any city-dwellers looking for a (potentially) cheaper alternative to car ownership that still provides the flexibility to get you across town when required, Zipcar might be worth a look.
More Info: http://www.zipcar.com
Well, there you have it — six more innovations that are shaking up the transportation industry. If you or anyone you know have used any of these services, drop me a line in the comments below — it would be great to hear what your experience was like.
Also, be sure to check back again soon for Part III of the series, where we’ll take a look at a few other new and exciting technologies aimed at completely reshaping how the world gets around.To keep up with the latest innovations, subscribe to the Impact of Innovation blog's RSS feed or follow The Impact of Innovation on Twitter! Follow @Impact_of_Innov