Carpooling is big business. Just ask Sidecar, Zimride, or any of the other sharing startups that are aiming to make ridesharing convenient through well-crafted apps. There’s another big ridesharing company about to enter the market—and it already has four million users across 40 countries.
Carpooling.com, a Munich-based ridesharing site that’s big in Europe, just scored approximately $10 million from automaker Daimler to expand into the U.S. market. Unlike its U.S.-based rivals, Carpooling.com has been around since 2001, making it an elder statesman in the world of sharing companies.
The site offers a simple service: drivers can offer seats via Carpooling.com, an accompanying smartphone app, or social networks like Facebook. Passengers can book a ride via the same services and pay drivers for their services via cash or Paypal (if drivers opt to have passengers pay online, Carpooling.com takes a 5% cut). At the end of the journey, both drivers and passengers can rate each other.
Carpooling.com has a handful of other side services as well, including organizing carpooling for corporate customers and selling train tickets.
The big question, though, is why Daimler is getting involved. The automaker is making it clear through various investments and projects (Car2Go, moovel, MyTaxi) that it’s more interested in being a mobility company than a conventional car company.
That’s a sentiment increasingly shared by other automakers as well—GM recently partnered with peer-to-peer carsharing startup RelayRides and Ford partnered with Zipcar last year to bring vehicles to university campuses.
Want to test out Carpooling.com? It should be in the U.S by 2013.