Though airports are, of course, about flying, they’re also about parking. A lot of parking. Look out the window at take-off, and you’ll see rows upon rows of unused vehicles idling in the sun, doing nothing. The idea of FlightCar is to make use of some of that capacity, saving on parking charges, while also generating some holiday spending money. Think of it as a car-sharing scheme for the jet set.
"I like to think about it like banking for cars," says Shri Ganeshram, founder of the site. "The reason banks came along is because your money’s just sitting there idly, and it makes sense for someone else to manage it for you while you’re gone. It’s the same with your car."
Before vacation, you go to the site and list your vehicle and the dates you’re out of town. Renters then contract to take the car as they would from Avis or Hertz. They could save 20% to 50% over a standard service, according to Ganeshram, while owners could pocket $300 for a two-week trip, including the rental cut, and savings from parking fees.
A native of rural Texas, Ganeshram dropped out of school at 16 to apply for college. At 17, he accepted an offer from MIT to study computer science. But he recently dropped out again—to work on FlightCar.
He expects the service to launch between Thanksgiving and Christmas, starting at San Jose and Oakland airports—though he still needs to arrange more funding. But he thinks he can offer better quality cars than traditional rental companies ("Consumers are paying a lot for crappy vehicles," he says), and benefit the environment, too.
"There’s no point manufacturing all these vehicles. It’s just wasteful," he adds. "They’re just [making them] for the purpose of putting them in airport parking lots."