A start-up that offers peer-to-peer car sharing through an Airbnb-style service has secured the backing of Saracens Rugby Club owner Nigel Wray.
Karshare, which was founded by entrepreneur Andy Hibbert as Car & Away in 2016, has raised £3m from Mr Wray, Fullbrook Thorpe and angel investors Adjuvo. The start-up began with car rentals from airports but now also allows users to rent cars from people’s driveways.
The car sharing company allows users to loan out their vehicles, which can be booked online and unlocked with only a smartphone.
Taking inspiration from Airbnb’s model of short term holiday lets, Karshare lets its users loan out their cars, making them up to £550 per month. Cars on its service are fitted with keyless technology, installing a small box that means customers hire a car without needing to physically pick up the key.
Karshare, which was founded by entrepreneur Andy Hibbert
During the pandemic, as airport travel fell away, Karshare focused on donating cars to key workers, such as those working at Nightingale hospitals.
According to Mr Hibbert, most cars in the UK sit idle for 96pc of their lives. “For the many hours they are sat outside people’s homes on streets and driveways, they could be hired out to vetted drivers in the local area,” he said.
According to Hibbert, peer-to-peer car sharing can take up to 24 cars off the road for every vehicle shared.
Karshare’s service is already live in Bristol, Manchester, Coventry and London and will use the funding to expand its service into Birmingham, Leeds and Edinburgh.
Mr Wray, 71, said: “We are delighted to be backing Andy Hibbert and his team at Karshare. Perhaps particularly in today’s age this is logically and environmentally the way things are going. Airbnb started somewhere – and who thought that would be what it is today.”
The UK start-up is not the only technology company eyeing carsharing. Bolt, the Estonian rival to Uber which recently raised £508m, has started offering keyless car rentals in Eastern Europe.
Manufacturers, such as Volvo, have started including keyless technology to allow drivers to quickly share their vehicles with friends and family.
In the US, Getaround and Turo have each raised hundreds of millions of dollars, although demand for carsharing apps dropped during the pandemic amid lockdowns and concerns over hygiene.