Hyundai has just announced its investment in Car Next Door — an Australian start up that allows you to rent out or borrow cars from regular people. While owners could already sign their vehicles up for the service — Hyundai will be adding a Car Next Door Function to its Auto Link app later this year in the hopes that its customers will start making some money.
"Australians will be able to buy a Hyundai car with the potential to rent it out," said Hyundai Motor Company Australia Chief Operating Officer, Scott Grant.
"This capability will be pre-installed and seamlessly integrated into Hyundai’s Auto Link app, making it a simple matter to earn extra funds via Car Next Door’s innovative sharing platform. We think it will be a great feature for Hyundai owners and we are very proud to partner with Car Next Door in this fantastic innovation."
And for people who don't need their cars all the time, it could be a good side hustle. The average earnings of medium sized cars on the site is around $3000 a year. People with vans are looking at upwards of $7500. It's kind of like Airbnb for cars.
One unique aspect that Hyundai drivers will be able to engage with is keyless driving. The Auto Link app will enable borrowers to both access and fire up the vehicle with their phones — as well as keep an eye on driving habits, monitor the health of the car and provide fault alerts.
At the time of writing, Auto Link is available in the the i30 and Kona vehicles, and will be in the new Santa Fe SUV and IONIQ hybrid.
I'm far more into this concept than the lockbox system that is currently being utilised by Car Next Door. The idea is that borrowers don't need to meet the owners in order to exchange keys.
If you're unsure on how this exactly works, this is what a customer service representative on the website's chat service had to say about it
"The vehicle’s key is stored within a secure lockbox (we call it ‘Fred’).
To access the vehicle, you will need to find Fred, and enter a code to open him and get the key. You'll find full instructions when you log in to the website or app from 15 minutes before your trip starts.
To return the key, use the app or mobile site to generate a lockbox code, put the key back inside and close the lockbox securely.
Hit the 'end booking' button to complete your booking and you're all done!"
The representative also stated that ideally, 'Fred' would be placed in a secure location, and that the location and instructions can be viewed under individual car profiles.
Editor Rae Johnston has seen quite a few of these lockboxes around her neighborhood, and has assured me that they are generally secured in such a way they can't be removed by thieves and trolls.
My paranoia aside, the appeal of businesses like Car Next Door is understandable. Between city living and fuel prices, not everyone can afford or justify having a car full time. Having an alternative to traditional car rental services is a good thing.
And on the flip side, if you don't use your car all the time and are okay with other people using it — why not make a little money? Hyundai certainly will be. The auto manufacturer is making a smart move by getting in on this action — it's a good way of future proofing the business if car sales decline in the future.
Of course, there are things that owners should consider before signing up - such as how much money they will actually make once you factor in Car Next Door's cut and the additional tax you will need to pay at the end of the financial year. As always — read the fine print, do your research, and hopefully profit.