Peer-to-peer carsharing (also known as person-to-person carsharing and peer-to-peer car rental) is the process whereby existing car owners make their vehicles available for others to rent for short periods of time.
Peer-to-peer carsharing is a form of person-to-person lending or collaborative consumption, as part of the sharing economy. The business model is closely aligned with traditional car clubs such as Streetcar or Zipcar, but replaces a typical fleet with a ‘virtual’ fleet made up of vehicles from participating owners. With peer-to-peer carsharing, participating car owners are able to charge a fee to rent out their vehicles when they are not using them. Participating renters can access nearby and affordable vehicles and pay only for the time they need to use them.
Businesses within this sector screen participants (both owners and renters) and offer a technical platform, usually in the form of a website and mobile app, that brings these parties together, manages rental bookings and collects payment. Businesses take between 25% and 40% of the total income, which covers borrower/renter insurance, operating expenses, and roadside assistance.
Although many personal auto insurers in the U.S. exclude coverage for commercial use of insured vehicles either through a livery and public transportation exclusion or a specific "personal vehicle sharing program" exclusion, several states in the U.S. have passed legislation allowing individuals to share their cars without risk of losing their personal car insurance.
As with person-to-person lending, the Internet and the adoption of location-based services have contributed to the growth of peer-to-peer carsharing.