Research shows that even though we may love our cars, we don’t actually use them all that often.
The fact is, cars spend 95% of their time parked, and the average British car is used for less than an hour a day.
Which is saying something, as new cars cost anything north of £20,000 (the average cost of a new car in 2013 was £27,000, according to data from Auto Express), while the cost of running a car is anywhere between £2,500 and £5,000 a year.
That’s a lot of money for something we may not even use on a daily basis, but thanks to something called the “sharing economy” there are now tried and tested ways of clawing some of that expense back.
And this isn’t some flash in the pan. The automotive industry is taking an increased interest in the sharing economy, with Jaguar Land Rover announcing a new spin-off company to look into its potential only this week. BMW’s car sharing scheme is already up and running.
With that in mind, here are five ways to make money from your car right now.
It’s quite simple. Offer a lift to someone going in the same direction and they contribute to the cost of the trip. You can do that informally with friends and neighbours, or through one of a number of websites that will arrange lifts for you, like Liftshare and BlaBlaCar, matching you with passengers wanting to make the same journey.
Passengers pay a fee towards fuel costs for the journey, the websites take a cut, and pass the remainder to you. It’s all conveniently done online. You have to join the sites to become either a driver or passenger, and you’re free to check out profiles and choose the people you want to travel with.
One step up from offering lifts is offering your entire car. Again, plenty of websites, including easyCar Club and Zipcar, now offer to match your car with local drivers wanting short term rentals. The websites vet potential renters and you can specify when and for how long you’re prepared to hire your car out for.
According to the companies, car owners can earn between £1,000 and £3,000 towards annual motoring costs by using one of these schemes.
Your car may be an underused asset - and you might be able to make money out of your driveway too. Commuters are always looking for inexpensive, handy parking spaces and companies like JustPark have been set up to match them with unused parking spots - like yours.
You don’t have to grant unlimited access to your drive. If you drive to work in the morning and get home at 6pm you can specify that your drive or garage is only available between these times. JustPark automatically sets the price for your space based on various criteria, “aiming to maximise your earnings.”
Well over a billion parcels are delivered to households in the UK every year, and an increasing number of them are delivered by freelancers making extra income in their own cars. Hermes, the biggest UK player, works with over 10,000 freelance “lifestyle” couriers across the UK. With more of us buying more goods online, that figure is only likely to increase.
Some sites even let you bid for delivering jobs. It’s probably true that lifestyle couriers are unlikely to get rich delivering parcels around their neighbourhoods, but as one told the BBC: “Every little helps”.
In the US parcel delivery has gone a step further. A company called Roadie helps drivers pay for long trips by letting them deliver parcels en route.
Become an Uber driver
Like them or loathe them, it seems that Uber is here to stay. Uber is like a minicab company, except drivers are freelance contractors and use their own cars to carry passengers. The Uber app lets you know when there’s a job near you.
To become an Uber driver in the US all you have to do is sign up, download the app and get going. It’s not quite so simple here, because you also need to apply for a minicab licence, but Uber say they will help you with that. The company insist that drivers can make up to £840 per week partnering with Uber.