Reducing Car Ownership Increases Income Spent in Local Economy

The National Building Museum released a fascinating infographic regarding car ownership and its relationship spending in the local economy.  Based on AAA Annual Cost of Ownership report, the annual cost to own a vehicle is $8,485, including all expenses, like loan payments, fuel, maintenance, insurance, and registration fees.  The NBM estimates that 84% of this cost is sent out of the vehicle's local economy.  Removing this vehicle from the road would keep that money in the local economy.  Between 2005 and 2009, Washington DC increased its population by 15,892 people while decreasing vehicle registrations by 15,000.


Brussels Welcomes Zen Car, an Electric-Vehicle Carshare Fleet

During March, Zen Car will launch a fleet of 29 electric vehicles in Brussels.  The vehicles can be returned across the city at one of fifteen charging stations.  The company will charge a 40 euro initiation fee, along with a monthly membership fee of 6 euro.  Vehicles can be rented for 7 euro per hour.  Zen Car will be 100% electric vehicles, adding to Brussels' effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Source: www.fastcompany.com


The Access Trumps Ownership Ethos has Arrived!

In our world today, a whisper is turning into chatter. Conscientious and younger consumers are awakening to a growing trend. The collision of social media networks, growing environmental concerns, strengthening community importance, and a massive global recession created the perfect opportunity for a new economic marketplace: The Access Economy (or Collaborative Consumption or the Shared Economy). The Access Economy changes behavior without diminishing convenience, prosperity, or quality of life. In fact, it creates a closer world, where neighbors trust one another. 


Gen Y More Utilitarian About Transportation

Generation Y is represents a major shift in mental models about driving and transportation.  As the largest generation ever in America at 80 million people, Gen Y will shape consumer and lifestyle trends for decades to come.  And these individuals view car ownership as more of a burden and a harm to the environment than a status or sex symbol.  They are proving that they would rather be heading to the bus stop than the car lot.
Source: Bryan College Station homepage

Building Buying Power Through Crowdsourcing

In an article over the weekend, Jo Thornhill at The Daily Mail in London made an effort to categorize some of the ways that the "crowd" is lending a hand to one another to increase buying power.  The focus of the article is on the collective buying power of crowds versus the individual.  When I discuss collaborative consumption models, I speak more broadly, including borrowing/lending schemes, landshare, carsharing, etc.  Thornhill's focus is primarily in the businesses that bring individual's together to save money through collective purchasing power.  The article breaks these businesses into four categories:
Mortgage merger: Stefan Canavan, left, and James Bertioli bought a flat together. Source: The Daily Mail


Landshare Updates in the United Kingdom

Over the weekend, there were a number of announcements and updates on landshare co-operatives.  Here is a rundown of those stories:

Links to the original articles are above


Love it! 'The Cookie Car' Gains Notoriety Among RelayRides Members

'The Cookie Car' is attracting more renters and making its car owner more money than neighboring cars in RelayRides' Boston market.  At the core is a fundamental and obvious principle, friendlier and better service makes more money.  The owner of the "Brian's Prius" proves this principle true once again by leaving small baggies of fresh cookies for renters in his car.
Source: Relay Rides' Blog

New in Chicago: Coworking Evanston

On February 1, co-owners Miguel Wong and William Melody launched their new coworking space on the corner of Davis Street and Chicago Avenue.  Each owner is a software developer with the desire to work more interactively and collaboratively with other independent professionals.  A description from the Coworking Evanston website:

"Coworking Evanston is a coworking space and community in downtown Evanston, IL, close to both Metra and the Purple line. 2500 sq ft of desks, meeting space and private offices available, all with high speed internet, free coffee and shared printer. A great community of software developers, designers and telecommuters."
Source: coworkingevanston.com

Fear of Fuel Price Hikes Spur Interest in Carsharing in Dundee, Scotland

Dundee, Scotland is trying launching a carshare service.  Following the success of programs around the world and in Edinburgh and Glasgow, Dundee is planning a carshare service to provide alternative vehicular transportation for local residents that can lead to fuel consumption and cost reductions in the future.  The service is under discussion at an event today, February 17, 2011.  Details of the event have not yet been released.  

Alistair MacLeod, from Solar Cities Scotland sees the benefits of establishing a carsharing service, "What the figures are showing with these kind of car clubs is that they reduce the amount of time people use cars and can save motorists thousands of pounds a year, and — as well as being better for the environment — it will also help in areas where they are struggling for parking spaces."

Welcome the World's First Vehicle Intended for Carsharing

Carsharing must be more than a fad when you see auto manufacturers designing vehicles specifically for sales to carshare fleet owners.  EDAG, the German engineering company, will have a new version of the concept car at this year's Geneva motor show.  The vehicle is not intended for sales to individual owners but specifically for fleet operators.  The vehicle below is decked out in a number of features that make it attractive for carshare companies and more convenient for carshare members to drive.
The EDAG Light Car Concept (Source: plugincars.com)


Landshare Arrives in Australia

Landshare, the hugely successful "match-making service for gardeners" in the United Kingdom, has launched its service in Australia on January 27, 2011.  The Australia branch of the company is run by Phil Dudman, an Aussie-native and gardening expert.

Dudman commented on the launch, “There is an increased demand for people wanting fresh, seasonal produce. The way of the future is to be growing your own produce - and the things you can’t grow yourself, you buy at the local farmers' market. And access to land is only getting harder as backyards get smaller.”

Landshare Australia launches on the back of the success of the program in the UK, which has nearly 60,000 members.

Link to full press release from Northern Star.


SustainAbility Interview with Rachel Botsman: Where Big Business Fits in Collaborative Consumption

Our collaborative consumption rock-star recently sat down with Kyra Choucroun of SustainAbility.  The interview, full article and video available at the link in the bottom of this post, bounced between issues faced by collaborative consumption - including:
  • How do large corporations and brands fit into the growth of collaborative consumption businesses?
  • Where do consumers in developing countries fit into the collaborative consumption movement?
  • When do we cross the line and begin to rent or access too much of our lives and should retain individuality and ownership?
Source: CollaborativeConsumption.com from the What's Mine is Yours book cover


Recent Momentum Gains for Coworking Space

This post was going to focus on Hub Melbourne, a new coworking space in Melbourne, Australia.  However, after a little digging, I found that there have been a lot of recent additions to the global coworking network.  I decided to write a summary of those additions, including who were the protagonists, where they are located, their purpose, and any unique or differentiating traits they have.

Below you will find: Hub Melbourne (Melbourne , AU); DurangoSpace (Durango, CA); General Assembly (New York, NY); Second Gear Coworking (Lansing, MI); and Share Your Office (global).
Images from General Assembly via VentureBeat


Industry Trade Group Established for Car-Sharing: Carsharing Association

Carsharing Association, the official trade group of the car-sharing industry, was established by 17 industry organizations to focus on environmental and social impact and responsibility, education, research, and ethical practices.  This story was reported by The Ithaca Journal.

ZipCar and Connect by Hertz Add Thirteen New University Campuses to Service Networks

ZipCar and Connect by Hertz have each expanded service to new university campuses this semester.  Between the two service providers, thirteen campuses are receiving service for the first time this year.  Both companies see the opportunity in the car-sharing market at universities.  As Mark P. Frissora, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Hertz stated, "The demand for car sharing is growing at universities because it's the most cost efficient way to drive a car and not worry about loan payments, insurance, maintenance, parking and other costs associated with vehicle ownership."
Image Source: Treehugger.com

Ecomodo Builds Swapping Marketplace Through Trust

Launched in March 2010, Ecomodo is an online marketplace, helping users lend or borrow everyday items, skills and space.  The service is primarily offered in London, but is available throughout the UK.  As of today, the site has more than 740 items available to borrow, from power tools to costumes, and recreational equipment to electronics.  The lender and borrower network is built around Trust Circles, or lending circles, "that use existing community connections to help feel more confident" about transactions.  These circles could be based on church groups, neighborhoods, schools or office parks.  Bridging the trust gap is a huge hurdle for the success of collaborative consumption models.  Additionally, the company offers optional insurance or deposits for any item through Royal Sun Alliance.
Source: www.redpepper.org.uk


Get Your "To Do List" Accomplished with Runners from TaskRabbit

As I begin to absorb and discover more of the innovation in the collaborative consumption niche, I am continually impressed with the creativity and intuition of many business starters.  TaskRabbit, established in the spring of 2008 originally as RUNmyERRAND, uses the power of the community to help people get everyday tasks completed.  Currently operating in Boston and San Francisco, the company allows users (Senders) to list any task that needs completing - dog-walking, packing, grocery pickup, graphic design, etc. - and pre-qualified "Runners" will sign up to do them for you.

New L.A. Seed Fund Aims at Collaborative Consumption

TechCrunch reports on a new seed fund called Collaborative Fund, established in Los Angeles, that is seeking to invest in "collaborative consumption and those which use their values as a competitive weapon." The fund is established be veteran angel investor and entrepreneur, Craig Shapiro, with the help of friends and advisors like YouTube founder Chad Hurley and Kiva co-founder and Profounder CEO Jessica Jackley.  Shapiro believes the fund will help innovative businesses focused extracting additional economic value from existing resources by making them more productive.


Meet the Craigslist of borrowing: NeighborGoods

NeighborGoods founder, Micki Krimmel, was stuck before a trip to Thailand without a proper backpack and ended up spending more than $250 when she could not find any friends to borrow one from.  This dilemma was the inspiration for her new company, Neighborgoods, which will charge a small fee ($4.99) to verify accounts in order to cover expenses.

Wired: "Rentalship is the new ownership in the networked age"

Not much I need to add to this great Wired article on the collaborative consumption movement.  It's timely in that someone at Wired noticed the same thing that myself and many others are noticing - "We are entering the access economy."

It's Music to Your Ears...From a Stranger

Take a CD, Leave a CD is more of a social experiment than a business plan, but I love the idea.  I am a not a music maven, but I do love to discover new artists.  The idea is promoting participation from ZipCar drivers to leave CD's at the end of rentals and feel free to take CD's that have been left by others.  It's promoting a behavior to share your favorite new music with strangers and discover the favorite music of others.

Chickens, Beehives, and Produce Sales are Legal for Pittsburgh Residents

If you were waiting to move to Pittsburgh until you could own chickens or a beehive in your urban backyard, wait no longer.  In recent weeks, Pittsburgh City Council passed a new Urban Agriculture Zoning Code that will expand the diversity in urban farming.  Soon it may not be strange to wake up to the sound of a rooster or a city bus.  Local NPR syndicate, WDUQ, reported on the new city ordinance here.

Repurposing Construction Materials Made Easy on Contractor Yard Sale

On Contractor Yard Sale, Andrew Pennington establishes a simple market exchange for surplus building materials.  Contractors and Suppliers are provided an opportunity to list any surplus building materials, while consumers can find these materials at great discount prices.  According the EPA, "Construction and demolition generates 160 millions of tons of waste each year in the U.S., every ton of which is an opportunity to reduce, recycle, and reuse."  Contractor Yard Sale operates primarily in Kentucky.  There are similar exchanges around the country - including Construction Junction in Pittsburgh, which operates a brick-and-mortar surplus store and a growing national chain of ReStore outlets, opereated by Habitat for Humanity.


NYT In Transit Blog: P2P Carsharing Market in Bay Area

The New York Times blogger, Sean O'Neill, wrote a quick summary of the competition that is heating up in the Bay Area.  Three companies are vying for the new person-to-person carsharing market there.

As part of a team in Pittsburgh that is going to market with a variation of this person-to-person model, I find it hard to believe that 200 vehicles are already available.  RelayRides arrived from Boston in December and currently has nine vehicles listed on its website, while the other competitors, Getaround and Spride Share, were first allowed to insure vehicles after the law went into effect in January.  Regardless, if you live in San Francisco, I would be very interested in hearing more details from the market on advertising, marketing, and vehicle availability.

Pittsburgh Explores Bike Sharing Program

Following European cities and Washington DC, Pittsburgh is in the early stages of exploring a bike sharing program. Bike PGH is leading the exploratory effort. Scott Bricker, the founder of Bike PGH, stated, "We're just learning about it. We like what we see in other cities around the world. We're just trying to build excitement here." Bricker has scheduled B-Cycle, a bike sharing company, to visit Pittsburgh in April for initial discussion.


If the neighbors cooking smells good... Eat it!

Over the weekend, Philadelphia welcomed a new start-up, MealTik.  The city hosted a local edition of a national program, called Startup Weekend, which connects entrepreneurs for a entire weekend to build, tweak and demo new business ventures.  According to a philly.com summary of the event, 16 teams presented demonstrations of their weekend work on Sunday afternoon. 

Sydney Carsharing Booming with GoGet Leading the Way

After the first cars were introduced in Marrickville (outside of Sydney) by GoGet in 2003, Sydney and its surrounding areas have more than 450 carshare vehicles.  More and more residents are foregoing or selling their vehicles to join carsharing and hopping back on public transportation.