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First Facebook-Integrated Peer-to-Peer Car-Sharing Service Launches at Stanford
September 30, 2011
A new car-sharing service, called Wheelz, launched Monday on the Stanford University campus in California.
The service is a peer-to-peer platform, meaning students borrow cars from one another, instead of sharing cars owned by services like Zipcar or Connect by Hertz.
Other P2P services already exist in the U.S. (Spride, Getaround) and Europe (WhipCar, CityZenCar). But Wheelz incorporates a few twists. It is deeply integrated with Facebook, so that users only share cars within their friend networks.
In addition, the program doesn’t discriminate against older cars or larger models. Vehicles in use at Stanford range from a 1974 Volkswagen Thing to a 2002 Audi TT to a 2003 Chevy Suburban.
Wheelz also uses an iPhone app and in-car hardware to allow participants to make reservations on the go and unlock doors without needing to exchange keys.
The service includes owner and driver ratings to ensure transparency and encourage responsible behavior – as well as complete insurance coverage, and roadside assistance.
"We all remember what it's like to struggle to find a car in college, or to own a car that you can barely afford to maintain. The winning P2P model must simultaneously meet the needs of car owners and drivers. To date, nobody has really executed well on this promise – we see that as our opportunity,” says Jeff Miller, Co-Founder & CEO of Wheelz.
Wheelz has been working in stealth on the concept since early 2011, with $2 million in seed funding. According to a company release, the team includes automotive experience from Mercedes-Benz, Tesla, Better Place, and Stanford's Solar Car program, as well as tech expertise from Google and Amazon.
Bart King is a PR consultant and founder of Cleantech Communications.