Every now and again, a new concept comes at me from the leftfield, hits me right between the eyes and is immediately dismissed as absurd.
Contactless payments was one, which I guffawed at as being a positively hare-brained idea. As if security-conscious people would agree to that?! Pah!
Sliced bread was another a generation or two before, as a nation collectively muttered that the world had gone mad.
Now I am faced with another headscratcher, as I am taken through the virtues of a new car sharing concept from Drivy (pronounced drive-ee), which my mind was consigning to the dustbin before I had given it a chance.
In a nutshell, if you need to rent a car for a day or two then download the Drivy app, search and head to someone’s nearest vehicle, click a button and drive off. Absurd, eh?! The thinking is that most cars stay idle in a parking space for most of their lives – 96.5% of the time according to the RAC. Drivy lets people list them so that others can rent them and bring them back later.
As Drivy’s UK managing director Katy Medlock tried to explain (in calming Antipodean tone), my mind wasn’t having it. So, you download the app, select a car you want near you, pay and jump in?
‘Yes,’ said the endearingly patient MD, who went on to say that Drivy’s ‘Open Technology’ allows people to point their phone at the car, click ‘open’ and like magic (via a telematics device inside the car), the vehicle unlocks and the journey begins.
Perhaps my fuddy-duddy state of mind is making this difficult to digest. Change. Is. Not. Good!
So, some imposter enters my sacred car, messes with my music and quite possibly causes carnage with a sausage roll, flinging puff pastry across my spotless upholstery as they go?!
Katy reassured me, and politely inferred that I might be missing the point anyway.
A simple check-in process makes it clear about the condition of each car and how it shall be returned, while the owner can be as specific as he or she wants through a ‘classic model’ of rental, where the hirer and owner can go through such intricacies at the outset.
She said: “It’s like AirBnB for your car. People are happy to list their holiday apartments for rent, with their clothes, shoes and valuable possessions inside. But they might be hesitant to do the same thing with their car.
“If it is sat on the drive doing nothing, then why not earn some money – and be reassured that your car will be returned in the same condition in which you left it.”
It was starting to make sense now. So, if I wanted a car for a few days, I wouldn’t have to queue at a car rental premises, or find a way of getting there in the first place?
Katy added: “Not only this, but you would receive 24/7 AA roadside assistance as standard and insurance from Allianz. This time next year, we want to be in a position to offer two cars for every 10-minute walk,” added Katy.
And what about price, I ask…
“We always keep an eye on competitors’ prices to ensure that we’re cheaper. As a general figure, I would say that we would typically charge £39 for a car when an established rental company would charge £50. But our differential is not so much price anyway, but convenience and proximity. There are no queues or hassle. You just locate the car you want, walk around the corner and you’re off.”
For the hirer, the proposition is similarly compelling, as Katy added: “Owners are in full control of prices but the Drivy platform recommends a price for a vehicle that is uploaded – the owner is then able to choose if they price in accordance with this. Our account management team will also reach out to those who could better optimise their pricing and offer assistance.”
All of a sudden, I am warming to Drivy’s radical new way of thinking. It seems like much of Europe were on board with it years ago, with Drivy boasting 2 million users in France, Germany, Spain, Austria and Belgium – featuring 55,000 cars in all.
In the UK, Katy explains that the company is in ‘growth mode’, with around 800 cars available to rent on the streets of London as of now (and 100 with clever Open Technology.)
The best thing since sliced bread, I contemplate?
Drivy has certainly given me food for thought.
For more information about Drivy and to understand the benefits in greater detail, visit https://www.drivy.co.uk/