Maarten Kooiman of Tapazz receiving its award from Luke Ervine of Eurostar.

Cars contribute greatly to air pollution which kills millions every year. Car-ownership encourages driving – car owners are more likely to journey by car without considering alternatives like public transport, walking or cycling.

Tapazz developed online software to enable car owners to rent their vehicles to neighbours. By making the process simple and low-risk, Tapazz removes many barriers which people experience when trying to ‘share’ their property. With over 1,000 members Tapazz has saved approximately 10,000 tonnes of CO2.

Making it easy, affordable and safe to hire a car from your neighbour could help break people’s addiction to car ownership for good.

Ashden judging panel

Context

Antwerp-based Tapazz is taking the sharing economy on a new journey with its peer-to-peer car rental network. Its user-friendly online software allows car owners to hire their cars to people who want to use a car for occasional journeys. Enabling people to hire a car from someone in their community in a risk-free way reduces the need for people to own their own car, while its system for reviewing and screening both renters and owners provides reassurance about safety. With a growing number of cars available for hire, Tapazz is shaping up to be the Airbnb of car travel.

Tapazz member Wim Prior Van Gucht often rents his car to neighbours. Credit: Richard Hammond / Greentraveller

Impact

Tapazz has over 1,200 members (car owners and users) and over 100 vehicles available. It has received in-kind support from KBC Bank, allowing it to use the start-up business hub located in the KBC Bank’s central Antwerp office.  

Tapazz estimates that half its 1,000 members have not needed to buy a car or an additional car and have therefore avoided the CO2 emissions associated with the manufacture and distribution of 500 cars. This would save approximately 10,000 tonnes of CO2. The significant indirect environmental benefits come from behaviour change of the members: Tapazz members have a better understanding of the actual value of their car, and how much time it is sitting idle. They are incentivised to make journeys on public transport or bike, as they realise they could hire their car and make some money from it.

This is helping to instil behaviour change and increase awareness of the benefits of the sharing economy. 

Wim and Maarten. Credit: Richard Hammond / Greentraveller

Tapazz suggests that the savings to someone who rents a car when they need one (rather than buying a car) could be around €200-300 per month, money that can then be spent in the local community. 

Neighbours hire their cars to each other, creating trust and building relationships with fewer cars taking up space for parking. By sharing assets the whole community benefits from the financial savings as well as developing community networks. 

  • 40% of cars in Belgium are company owned.
  • 90% of the time cars are sitting idle.
  • Over 1,000 Tapazz members.

The future 

There is currently no other organisation providing a cooperatively managed, peer-to-peer car sharing service in the world. Tapazz is providing the service to its members entirely online and via smartphone apps, as well as providing hourly hire rates for vehicles (rather than day rates). Based on the figures from 2014, Tapazz is currently experiencing a growth rate of 10-15% each month of cars and members.

2017 Update...

  • They now have 1,600 members and 140 cars on their system.
  • They are now working in 3 main cities (Ghent, Antwerp and Hasselt) as well as a few other areas.

Details

Antwerp-based Tapazz is taking the sharing economy on a new journey with its peer-to-peer car rental network. Its user-friendly website allows car owners to hire their cars to people who only need a car for occasional journeys. Enabling people to hire a car from someone in their community in a risk-free way reduces the need for people to own a car, while its system for reviewing and screening both renters and owners provides reassurance about safety.

With a growing number of cars available for hire and the insurance covered, this could be the future of sustainable travel.

Magnetic branding on car door. Credit: Richard Hammond / Greentraveller

Business model

Tapazz is a cooperatively managed social enterprise founded by Maarten Kooiman and Stijn Hooft in 2012.

The brand name, Tapazz, comes from the Spanish concept of sharing food (tapas) as the user can pick what they want, depending on what they need at that moment. 75% of the Tapazz member vehicles are located in and around Antwerp, although there are also clusters in Leuven, Brussels and Gent. Tapazz has over 100 vehicles on its system, including two electric cars, five small vans, a jeep, a convertible and some 7-seaters. 

How does Tapazz work?

To sign up to Tapazz as a car user, you need to upload your driving licence, credit card details (for proof of address), and load a minimum of €50 credit. These steps ensure that all users are fully traceable. Car owners can upload details of any vehicle to the site and make it available. When a booking has been made, the user arrives to take the car. Normally the keys are passed over in person (although keyless options are available). The feedback and review system is similar to other websites such as Airbnb or eBay. The fuel in the cars is the responsibility of the car owner. Some users will hire a car every week from the same owner. 

When I don’t need my car I can give it to someone else. Tapazz gives me the security. I know that if something goes wrong, I get support and I can also find users without having to do it myself.

Wim Prior Van Gucht , Tapazz Member and Art Director, Antwerp

The average rental period of a vehicle is half to one day, with an average distance covered of 50 km. Cars can be hired by the hour, encouraging users to consider the full range of multi-modal sustainable travel options.

Through partnerships with insurance companies, Tapazz has developed a system that ensures users are insured without affecting their no-claims bonus. This has helped to reduce the risk of lending a vehicle out to others.