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mar 07, 2017

From ride-sharing to car-sharing, Brazilians are opening their doors

In the wake of successful ride-share apps like Uber, Brazilian entrepreneurs have decided to take the transportation sharing economy one step further. Over the last few years, multiple car-sharing apps have popped up in São Paulo. Instead of just borrowing someone's passenger seat for the next ride, users opt to rent out an entire car for a period of time. 

Five years ago, Zazcar launched as the first independent car-share service on the market. Over time, people’s perceptions of the sharing economy have evolved, allowing for more users to put their trust into apps such as Zazcar. 

“A series of alternatives to urban transportation popped up that led many people to feel comfortable lending out their cars, and our market grew,” said the car-sharing company’s CEO Felipe Barroso in an interview with Brazil’s main automobile business review. 

Unlike the standard car rental companies, which rent out cars for days, weeks, or even months, Zazcar only rents out cars for a couple of hours. Barroso imagines a businessman who has a meeting in a nearby city. To catch his meeting, a taxi fee would be absurdly expensive. However, he might want to rent a car for a few hours to get there and back.

So far, Zazcar has 65 cars up for rental in 52 locations across São Paulo. All cars are a Ford Ka model with a 1.0 motor - simple and reliable. Clients pay the car rental fee based on time used and kilometers traveled, or they can opt to pay a fixed hourly fee. Over the next year, Barroso hopes to expand Zazcar by another 15 locations across the city and an additional 37 cars. Ideally, the ambitious CEO hopes to be able to offer one car for every 100 residents, meaning 1,500 cars throughout the city.

“Currently, we have the capacity to serve only 2 to 3 percent of the population,” said Barroso. Reaching his goal would mean more people are willing to rent, rather than own their own car.

Another car-sharing app based in São Paulo is Pegcar, which allows people with cars to rent them out to people who need them for a time. Both companies have revolutionized the concept of car “ownership” in Brazil to such an extent that major automobile companies are also catching on. For example, General Motors has launched its own car-sharing app. The app, “Maven”, is already in use in the U.S., and Brazil is the first international market to adopt it.