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PopCar versus Car Next Door: Comparison & Rates

Sam Ficek


Car sharing has taken off over the last few years in Australia, with a choice of platforms offering different models for hiring and pricing plans. You may have seen the friendly Car Next Door logo on the side of a car on the freeway, or a PopCar fleet car parked in the city. While both allow you to hire a vehicle for short trips of just an hour or longer, there are some big differences between the two services.

To help you decide which provider is best for you, we’ve compared the cost of hiring a vehicle from Car Next Door and PopCar, using two common travel scenarios.

Why car sharing?

There are many benefits to car sharing. It’s an easy and affordable way to always have access to a vehicle whenever you need one, without all the ongoing expenses of owning a car. Not only will it save you money, but it’s convenient and easy to use, with all transactions completed online and via an app. There are also some other surprising benefits to car sharing that you’ll love.

Cheaper than owning a car

According to the NRMA most cars sit idle 95 percent of the time. But no matter how much you drive a car, some costs don’t change. Insurance, registration, ongoing servicing, depreciation, and storage are all a part of owning a car. With car sharing there's none of these, you only pay each time you hire. For people who don’t need to drive every day, it’s a very cost effective and convenient way of getting around.

Car sharing avoids all the ongoing costs of owning a car.

Better than traditional car rental

Car sharing is more affordable and easier to use than traditional car rental. Traditional car rental only permits bookings by the day, but car sharing gives borrowers the flexibility and convenience of booking by the hour as well. The average cost of a single car sharing trip travelling 15 kilometres is $32.00 - even less on some car sharing platforms like Car Next Door.

Convenient & easy to use

With traditional car rental, borrowers need to travel to a central depot to pick up their car. With car sharing, vehicles are dispersed across the city, allowing borrowers to find cars in their local area - or in their own street. With a downloadable app for searching and making bookings car sharing is now as convenient as catching a bus.

Borrowers use an app to locate and book cars in their local area.

Change up your wheels

There are additional benefits to car sharing than just cost and convenience. Borrowers can choose a vehicle to match their journey, with a choice of small hatches, SUVs, vans, and even luxury cars available for hire. Choose a van to pick up furniture, a comfy SUV for a holiday, or a convertible for a summer trip to the beach. You can’t do that when you own a car!

Better for the environment

If you’re concerned about your environmental footprint and CO2 emissions, there’s more good news. Car sharing platforms like Car Next Door help to reduce CO2 emissions by encouraging the sharing of privately owned vehicles, rather than purchasing new vehicles. This also helps to reduce congestion on the roads.

How does it work?

Whether it’s joining up, making a booking or getting access to your vehicle, everything is done online, via an app or is automated. To join up, simply enter your details online. Once you’re verified and you’ve downloaded the app, you can start searching for vehicles in your area. The whole process of joining takes no more than 3 hours for the majority of applicants, and there’s no time consuming paperwork. All you need is a full license and credit card.

Depending on the car sharing platform you join, access to your vehicle is either via a pin and swiping your membership card (in the case of PopCar), or from a lockbox on or near the car (like with most Car Next Door cars). There’s no need to visit a counter to pick up keys. At the end of your journey, simply return the car, and you’re on your way.

With car sharing, all transactions are completed online and via an app.

Fleet-based and peer-to-peer car sharing

It may seem like all car sharing services are the same, but there are some important differences. One of the main differences is between fleet-based services like PopCar and peer-to-peer car sharing like Car Next Door.

Fleet

In fleet services, cars are owned by the car sharing business. Vehicles are parked on the street in designated car parks and tend to be centralised in inner city areas, with less cars in outer suburbs and regional areas. PopCar is a fleet-based car sharing business.

Peer-to-peer

In a peer-to-peer car sharing service like Car Next Door, the vehicles are owned by private individuals who use a car sharing platform to rent out their car when they aren’t using it. The advantage of peer-to-peer (or neighbourhood) car sharing over fleet services is that they tend to have a broader reach. With more vehicles dispersed throughout the city and outer suburban areas, it tends to be much easier to find a vehicle in your neighbourhood.

Peer-to-peer car sharing has more cars in the city and outer suburbs than other forms of car sharing.

How do I choose the right car sharing service?

Choosing the best car sharing service involves finding the service with the best coverage in your area and the best membership plans and insurance policies.

Are there cars available in my area?

A good car sharing service is one where you can always find a car when you need it and you don’t have to travel far. Determining how many vehicles a car sharing service has, and how many are in your local area is crucial. If you live in the suburbs or regional areas, a peer-to-peer service will likely have more cars available in your area.

How much does it cost?

For car sharing to work it needs to be affordable. Look at plans and calculate some typical trips to work out the best provider.

If I have an accident, what will I have to pay?

Unfortunately accidents do happen. Before you choose a car sharing business, learn about your insurance liability, and how much extra it costs if you want to lower your liability.

Do they have the type of vehicle I need?

Fleet car sharing services tend to have less variety in the types of car available, though this might suit some drivers who prefer to borrow the same car each time.

Pop Car Versus Car Next Door

Now that you know about the benefits of car sharing and what to look for when comparing car sharing services, let’s jump into a comparison of PopCar and Car Next Door.

PopCar

PopCar is a small fleet based service with a total of around 180 cars spread across the cities of Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and Byron Bay.

  • Fleet car sharing
  • Monthly Plans
  • Book by the hour or day
  • Rates from $5.50 per hour

Car Next Door

Car Next Door is a peer-to-peer car sharing service with over 4,000 vehicles listed around Australia.

  • Peer-to-peer car sharing
  • Book by the hour or day
  • Rates from $5.00 per hour

Location and availability of cars

When comparing the volume and coverage of vehicles in Australian cities and regional areas, it’s clear that Car Next Door comes out as the winner over PopCar. Car Next Door has cars located in more major cities across Australia and also has more cars available throughout metropolitan and regional areas. For borrowers located in the outer suburbs of Melbourne and Sydney, and many regional areas between Sydney and Brisbane, Car Next Door is a better choice.

Car Next Door has more vehicles across Australian cities and regional areas than PopCar.

Plans & Pricing

Calculating the cost of a car sharing journey with PopCar and Car Next Door is based on:

  • How long you require the vehicle
  • The type of vehicle you choose
  • The distance you travel

Rates vary depending on the type of vehicle you hire. A small hatch is cheaper to hire than a sedan, an SUV or a luxury vehicle. Borrowers are also charged for the number of kilometres they travel.

PopCar and Car Next Door provide different membership plans, with cheaper rates when you travel more often.

New borrowers:

For new borrowers,  PopCar has an introductory rate and charges no monthly fees. On the other hand Car Next Door offers the same low rate and no monthly fees to all borrowers. Hourly and daily hire rates on PopCar’s Standby plan are considerably more expensive compared with the rate offered by Car Next door -  $9.90 per hour with PopCar, compared with $5 with Car Next Door. The difference in rate is even more stark if you want to hire a car for a day, with rates beginning at $80 with PopCar and $25 per day with Car Next Door.

Frequent borrowers:

Day rates on PopCar’s Often plan begin at $59. Whereas Car Next Door day rates start as low as $25. As we’ll see below in the cost comparison on two different journeys, this is where Car Next Door has the edge over PopCar on price.

Below is a summary of the different membership plans offered by PopCar and Car Next Door.

Popcar plan Often Occasional Standby
Membership fee $19.90 per month + $10 joining fee $7.70 per month + $10 joining fee $0 per month + $25 joining fee
Booking fee no fee no fee no fee
Hourly rate From $5.50 From $7.90 From $9.90
Daily rate $59 $59 $80
Distance rate 40c per km 40c per km 40c per km
Included Km 100km on daily rate 100km on daily rate 100km on daily rate
Damage liability $1,500 to $2,000 $1,500 to $2,000 $1,500 to $2,000

**Damage Liability: if you have an accident the maximum you will pay is $2000. To reduce your liability to $0 PopCar charges $1.50 extra per hour.

Car Next Door Borrower rate
Membership fee free
Booking fee $6.99
Hourly rate from $5
Daily rate from $25
Distance rate from 21c/Km
Damage liability $2,000

*Damage Liability: if you have an accident the maximum you will pay is $2000. To reduce your liability to $500 Car Next Door charges $1.50 extra per hour or $18 per day.

Cost comparison on different trips

The tables above provide a summary of pricing differences between PopCar and Car Next Door. The best way to really compare the two providers, however, is to put them to the test with some real life scenarios. We’ve done a cost comparison on two different journeys:

  • A three hour shopping trip
  • A day trip out of town
Car Next Door PopCar
Three hour shopping trip $32.19 $37.70
A day trip out of town $47.74 $80.00

*See the Notes below for details of the type of vehicle and specific plan selected for each journey.

Three hour shopping trip

Picking up groceries and running some errands typically takes around three hours. All you need is a small hatch to get you through traffic. You’ll be travelling 20 kilometres.

For three hours and 20km of travel, you’ll pay about $37.70 for PopCar, and $32.19 with Car Next Door.

A shopping trip cost comparison

A day trip out of town

Hiring a car for a full day gives you maximum flexibility and allows you to travel a bit further, visit a friend for a long lunch or spend the day out of town. We’ve calculated a typical day trip to the Northern Beaches in Sydney or to the Dandenong Ranges on the outskirts of Melbourne.

When you hire a small hatch with PopCar for a day, you get 100 kilometers of travel included. With Car Next Door you just pay for the kilometres you travel. In our day trip scenario, you’re only travelling 75 kilometres, so Car Next Door is a much better option. But even if you travelled 100 kilometres, Car Next Door will still cost less, so it’s better value for money.

You’ll pay around $80 for PopCar, and $47.74 for Car Next Door.

A day trip - one day and 70km

PopCar Versus Car Next Door: who wins?

Car Next Door is the clear winner when comparing travel costs on two different journeys. Compared with PopCar, Car Next Door is cheaper for short trips of a few hours and significantly cheaper for day trips.

Car Next Door is cheaper for short trips of a few hours and significantly cheaper for day trips.

Hiring with Car Next Door

Hopefully you now have a better understanding of the benefits of car sharing, and how it works, and you’re excited to try it out. We think you’ll agree that neighbourhood car sharing with Car Next Door is the most affordable, convenient and sustainable way to car share, and keep local money in the hands of locals.

Not only does Car Next Door have more cars located throughout the suburbs in more Australian cities than any other car sharing service, but for short and long journeys, Car Next Door provides the most competitive pricing. And that’s not all. To offset CO2 emissions, Car Next Door supports reforestation projects across Australia. With a quick and easy way to join, pet friendly vehicles, and no lock-in memberships, you can start searching for all sorts of vehicles in your local area today.

Notes:

To cost each of the trips above, we compared similar pricing plans at Car Next Door and PopCar. The three hour shopping trip and day trip were calculated using PopCar’s Standby Plan. Both were based on hiring a small hatch.

PopCar’s Occasional Plan includes a monthly fee. We haven’t included it in the individual calculations for each trip.

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