Hyundai gambles on future with investment
Sophisticated technology replacing conventional keys in new cars will make it easier for owners to put their vehicles to work in car sharing services.
Connected cars that can be accessed through smartphones are becoming increasingly common as manufacturers look to improve convenience for owners.
For some people, that will involve sending a digital "key" to a family member so they can borrow the car to pop down to the shops. For others, it will make it easier for cars to become a secondary income stream when not in use.
Hyundai is looking to get a slice of that action by investing another $6.2 million in car-sharing start-up Car Next Door this week, taking its local stake to $8 million in the past 12 months.
Next-gen Hyundai models will feature the sort of keyless tech pioneered by Tesla and BMW, and Hyundai Australia chief executive JW Lee wants customers to be able to take advantage of that.
"This is the future of connected green cars, where the ability to car share is built into the hardwiring of the car making it easy for one car to be used by multiple people," he says.
"This capability has been pre-installed and seamlessly integrated into Hyundai cars, making it easy for Hyundai owners to earn extra money from their car when they are not using it via Car Next Door's innovative sharing platform."
Car Next Door chief executive Will Davies says many manufacturers are working on car-sharing solutions.
"The average car in Australia is used for only 4 per cent of the time," he says.
"For that 96 per cent of the time they sit idle, they could be used to create an extra income and help to reduce parking congestion and pressure on our roads."
Some analysts predict car sharing will replace outright purchases for many new vehicles.
Car Next Door says it has 150,000 members on the books. The Australian car market is down 8 per cent so far this year, and is on track to decline by more than 90,000 vehicles in 2019.
Holden became the first car company to establish its own car sharing fleet in Australia with Maven in 2017. Many other brands are looking to cash in on the potential for car sharing, including Mercedes and BMW, which have invested in Car2Go.