A London-based car sharing start-up has raised £5 million from Japanese conglomerate Itochu to encourage thousands of Brits to loan out their cars to strangers.
Founded in 2013, Hiyacar allows car owners to lend their vehicles for days or months at a time. The start-up has been dubbed the “Airbnb for cars”.
Average British cars are driven for less than 5% of their lifetime and spend much of the time sitting idle.
Hiyacar says its website allows people to make money by making more use of their vehicle.
The start-up uses a keyless smartphone app to give drivers access to lent cars and claims drivers can make up to £1,000 per month through its service.
The deal with Itochu will give Hiyacar the chance to work with repair company Kwik Fit, which was bought by the Japanese firm in 2011 for £637 million. The start-up funding brings Hiyacar’s total raised to more than £11 million, mostly through angel investors and crowdfunding.
The start-up is a challenger to Drivy, the French car hire start-up, which raised €30 million in 2016 for its car hiring service and launched in the United Kingdom last year.
Hiyacar has also received investment from other UK tech entrepreneurs, including Mark Chapman and Graham Hobson, the founders of Photobox.
The start-up said it now has 60,000 members who are able to rent out cars from friends, neighbours and people nearby. Drivers keep 80% commission from their car rental fees.
Hiyacar founder Graeme Risby said: “There is nobody that does genuine peer-to-peer cars.
“For whatever reason they try to hit profit too quickly and move to fleets. We don’t need to put more cars on the road, this investment gives us two years to give this a go with a global partner.”
While other global companies such as Uber have been betting on a fall in car ownership and shift to autonomous vehicles, Risby said he sees car sharing as another way people will travel in the future.
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