If you're like most Americans, you own a car that sits idle nearly all day. So why not make a few bucks renting it out to a non-owner when you don't need it? A company called RelayRides is going national with the concept this week, and Farhad Manjoo at Slate thinks it has the potential to "alter the nature of car ownership in the United States." RelayRides is different from others that have tried to tap this market for two key reasons: It's worked out the insurance logistics of lending your car to a stranger, and it doesn't own the cars in its service, people do.
Those who opt to offer their vehicles for rental in this type of "peer-to-peer sharing" do so for an hourly rate, which could translate into about $250 a month. If it works, the idea could theoretically ease congestion and pollution by reducing the need for everyone to own a car. But Manjoo acknowledges the hurdles: People worried about the wear and tear on their vehicles, or just the "weird" vibe of having strangers drive them. "Changing these attitudes will take time," writes Manjoo, but eventually "we may all see the wisdom in sharing our keys." Read the full column here. (Read more cars stories.)