Top tips on how your car could make you cash
Want to make some money from your car - which spends most of its life parked? Yes, of course you do but would you rent it out to strangers?
Ford is conducting a huge trial in London offering 12,000 owners the chance to earn an income from their car. Similar studies are being conducted in American cities as the company enters the implementation stage of its Smart Mobility Plan, which includes electric bikes which can be carried in the boot of your car and be charged up while you are driving.
The London experiment is being closely followed by Ciaran McMahon, chairman and MD of Ford Ireland, who says he would look to bring any successful initiatives to our cities if suitable.
Called Pilot on this side of the Atlantic, the scheme allows buyers using Ford Credit to finance their car to sub-rent it to other pre-screened people who can make bookings online through a partnership with easyCar Club. It is targeted at so-called 'Millennials' - people born between 1980 and the mid-1990s who are tech-aware and open to new ideas like Pilot which are aimed at saving them money.
"There is consumer interest in sharing the cost of vehicle ownership and this programme will help us understand to what extent that interest extends to customers who are financing a Ford vehicle," says David McClelland, vice-president of marketing at Ford Credit. "Realistically, most vehicles are parked and out of use much of the time so this pilot scheme will help us gauge our customers' desire to pick up extra cash and keep their vehicles in use."
The idea is that renters would pick up the keys from the car-owner or from a safe location and then return the vehicle following the rental period. The scheme will last six months and starts next week.
Following six months of gathering data and consumer insights, Ford is honing in on two strategic areas - flexible use and ownership of vehicles, and multimodal urban travel solutions.
New findings from Penn Schoen Berland, an independent research company, show one third of Millennials in the US are interested in renting out their own belongings as a way to supplement their income, and young Americans rank car rides second only to book lending as things they are most open to sharing, and 40pc say it is an opportunity to try out new products.
Ford also recently announced GoDrive, an on-demand, public car-sharing pilot, somewhat similar to the GoCar scheme in Dublin. The service offers customers flexible, practical and affordable access to a fleet of cars for one-way journeys with easy parking throughout London. It grew from one of the more than 25 mobility experiments Ford announced in January, and offers Londoners an easy way to access transportation through 50 cars positioned in 20 locations. The one-way trips offer guaranteed parking and pay-as-you-go per-minute pricing covers all fees on the fleet of zero-emission Focus Electric vehicles.
In many cities, driving your vehicle from home to work is not feasible. Ford is looking for solutions here, too, and today is revealing a new electric bike and a prototype smartphone app that makes using the eBike even easier for urban commutes.
MoDe:Flex is Ford's third and most versatile eBike yet. The bike's centre-frame assembly includes the motor and battery, while the front and rear assemblies and wheels can be configured for road, mountain or city riding. It connects seamlessly with a rider's smartphone and the app harnesses real-time information regarding weather, congestion, parking costs, time, traffic and public transportation. It includes eyes-free navigation, route planning, and health and fitness information.
A new link for the smartwatch brings all of the real-time data and functionality to the eBike rider's wrist. This includes the "no sweat" mode, which increases electric pedal assist based on heart rate - ensuring riders get to their destinations without breaking a sweat. The wearable device also provides safety notifications. Hazards, such as potholes ahead, are signalled through vibrating handlebars, plus the smartwatch alerts the rider and beeps.
Both consumers and cities can use data from bike sensors. Bike sensor data can provide information about traffic patterns, pedestrians and road conditions that is difficult to obtain from vehicle sensors. In the future, this data may be combined with vehicle data to analyse road quality, characterise micro-climates, or identify traffic patterns throughout the day.
For example, city planners could use this information to create bike lanes. Bike riders could get insights on best routes or real-time information on areas to avoid.