Car-sharing service Wheelz is kind of like Zipcar, but instead of owning a fleet of vehicles itself, it’s making cars that are owned by regular folks available for rent. Founder and CEO Jeff Miller says Wheelz is “building a community marketplace that connects people who own a car with people who need access to a car.” According to him, there are about 250 million cars in the U.S., most of which are parked all the time.
Wheelz aims to make those parked cars available to those who might not own one, when they need a vehicle. To do so, it installs a hardware device into all cars, which allows renters to unlock and access those cars via its mobile app.
Not only is Zipcar kind of a competitor, in the sense that it also provides on-demand access to vehicles via the web and mobile apps, but it was also lead investor in Wheelz. So what does the Avis purchase of Zipcar mean for Wheelz, and the on-demand car-sharing market in general?
“What we’re seeing is a greater shift towards mobility services, away from just a single one-car-to-one-person ownership model,” Miller said. “Avis… making an investment and acquiring a car-sharing company is making a pretty big statement around the direction in how the overall car-sharing industry is growing.” Avis isn’t alone: automotive companies like Mercedes-Benz and BMW are launching their own services for on-demand car services and fractional ownership of vehicles.
Check out the video above to hear more about how car-sharing is changing.