YourDrive, a startup that lets people rent out their personal vehicles, has automated its service.

Previously, it required the owner of a vehicle to hand over keys to a renter.

Now, YourDrive will install a $250 hardware unit in your car (at its cost) which means a renter can unlock it with an app.

YourDrive operates nationwide, but most of the 250 or so vehicles on its books are in Auckland and Wellington, founder and CEO Oscar Ellison says - and those cities are getting the automated system first.

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The idea behind YourDrive is that you can rent out your car during downtime - be it while you're at work or away for a few days.

The startup has software that will suggest hourly and daily pricing based on make and model, but an owner can override it if they choose.

Ellison says allowing for GST, his company takes a 31 per cent clip of the ticket on each rental, with insurance included in its commission. The renter has to return the car in the same condition they picked it up - which means they cover their own fuel costs, and cleaning.

When new customers first sign up, they have to provide driver's licence details, which are cross-checked with an NZTA database, and sometimes with credit and police background checks - so Ellison says there can be a slight delay for approval.

YourDrive promotes a case study of a vehicle owner who earns around $2000 a year renting out his car. Ellison says the highest earning user of his service took in $11,000.

$10 to hire a car

When the Herald looked on YourDrive, cars available in Auckland ranged in price from a 2010 Honda Fit, which could be rented from its Mt Wellington owner for $40 a day or $10 an hour, to a Lexus RX 350 in Onehunga for $100 a day or $25/hour.

Car owners and renters can rate each other out of five.

Searching for a car in Auckland via YourDrive.
Searching for a car in Auckland via YourDrive.

Peer-to-peer car sharing is a growing area overseas, but here there are only a couple of operators: YourDrive and rival My Car Your Rental, which claims 300 cars nationwide and also takes a one-third clip of the ticket, but has a manual key-handover process.

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A third contender, Roam Ride - which initially set the pace for unlocking a rental by an app - has now closed to new enrolment and told the Herald it now only has one active car.

Ellison says he also sees his company in indirect competition with the likes of CityHop and Mevo, which rent out their own vehicles via an app by the hour.

Using YourDrive's app to unlock a rental car. The startup is designed to let car owners rent out their vehicle while they're at work or away. Photo / Supplied.
Using YourDrive's app to unlock a rental car. The startup is designed to let car owners rent out their vehicle while they're at work or away. Photo / Supplied.

YourDrive is four years old. Ellison says it still loses money but is approaching cashflow-positive. Two years ago, traditional rental company Jucy took a 50 per cent stake for an undisclosed sum. Ellison owns the balance.