You can be forgiven if you’ve never heard of car-sharing. While it’s a service that has been around in different forms since the 1970s, it has only recently increased in popularity. It brings the traditional car rental system into the modern, digital, and fast-paced world, by allowing you to rent a car on a short term basis, such as by the hour or half-day.

Car share rental cars can be found dispersed across central locations in many major cities in New Zealand. Unlike traditional car rentals, though, these cars are generally privately owned and the rentals are facilitated by another party. Think of it like a driverless Uber – you’re in charge of the car!

The adoption of apps and digital platforms has meant that this ‘peer-to-peer’ car-sharing is more efficient, safe, and cost-effective than it has ever been. New Zealand’s largest car-sharing company, Yourdrive, has eliminated the previous need for the physical exchange of keys by introducing a ‘digital key’ system. This means that for busy car owners and renters, it’s a simple exchange of a code through the app.

The increasing availability of car-sharing options provides another transport option that proves there are many benefits to ditching private car ownership altogether, particularly in large and densely populated areas.

For example, if you are someone who is able to use public transport most of the time and just need a car for special occasions or out of town trips, car-sharing could be the perfect option for you. Not only would you be helping to ease congestion and limit the number of vehicles on the road but you can also avoid the many costs that come with car ownership and general upkeep.

Similarly, sharing your car as a car owner could allow you to earn some extra income when it would otherwise not be in use, not to mention the feel-good factor of knowing that you’re providing someone else with transport that they need while saving the environment one less car at a time. It also frees up the demand for parking in our main cities.

According to a report on car-sharing by the Ministry of Transport, the best candidates for car-sharing are apartment dwellers, younger people and singles, couples without children at home, those who don’t own a car or rarely have access to a car, and people who use a car one day or less a week.

The CEO of Yourdrive, Oscar Ellision, told Stuff most consumers only use their vehicles about four percent of the time. However, they still carry the fixed costs of vehicle ownership, which work out at around $21 per day for a small car.

“Peer-to-peer vehicle rentals are growing rapidly throughout NZ, particularly in urban areas where public transport infrastructure is well developed. It means that car owners who take the train or bus to work can derive an income from their vehicle when it is not in use,” he says.