London X reviewed the app Drivy to find out if we really can have it all

 

Car owners do actually exist in London. We all know one. Or two. Maybe more. But they’re a bit like those people who eat what they want and don’t exercise but still, inconceivably, have a six pack. Sure, we might know about you. But we cannot pretend to understand nor relate to the position you’ve found yourself in. Sorry not sorry.

Will we accept a lift to Ikea? Why, yes we will, thank you. Will we accept your kind offer to be a designated driver (and by offer, we mean, there-was-no-offer-but-we-assumed-you-were-going-to…) Hell yeah! But behind your back, we are as baffled by you as we are jealous. Yes, jealous that you somehow afford London rent – because a London mortgage is something we view as pretty much mythical at this point – the underground, eight overpriced Pret coffees a day and an honest to God CAR?! Sorry. Something doesn’t add up.

Because, let’s face it, for Londoners, unlike everything else in this Kingdom, which used to be United, apparently, a car is not a necessity. It is a luxury. Nobody needs it. Well, most of us don’t, anyway. We have the Tube. We have Uber. And there’s this whole ‘walking’ fad people have been trying out of late also, that’s apparently good for you, especially if you do over 10,000 steps, reportedly, as we have it on good authority. In short, cars are as redundant to most Londoners as staff are at the Patisserie Valerie.

Or at least, that used to be the case. But don’t forget, this is 2019. You can even check the date – top right. And, of course, in 2019, if you want to hire a room, who needs a hotel when you have AirBnB? Who needs to go to a restaurant for food when Just Eat has you covered? Who needs to go on an actual date when Tinder has you all hooked up within the hour? And now, cars are next in line, app-arently, as the domination of apps conquers every industry imaginable.

Yes, driving other people’s cars is the hot new trend that is, ahem, driving everyone wild. Although how new it is, is debatable. The leading app Drivy has, in fact, actually been going for almost a decade, and has already been seeing speedy success, as the leading car sharing platform in Europe. With two million users and more than 50,000 cars in six countries allowing drivers to find a car in their neighbourhood, open it with their smartphone and – hey presto – drive it away merrily.

But this year Drivy and their rivals are primed to really soar into the big league, alongside Spotify, Netflix and Amazon and are making a big push to get the word out.

And really, it’s an idea that’s been so logical, it’s amazing we’re not already all at it constantly. With vehicles sourced from private owners and dedicated fleets, the service includes fully comprehensive insurance with Allianz and 24/7 roadside assistance provided by the AA. What’s more they promise to bring “fresh air to city dwellers encouraging fewer vehicles on the road and more freedom to move.”

But is it all as simple as it claims to be? I went to test it out.

As someone who finds even catching the bus complicated (it’s the letter system that’s always got me scratching my head…) I figured if I could manage it, anyone could.

So, me and my Driver, let’s call him Driver Dave, who was very much-needed because I tragically have no license, (long story…) booked through the app so we could use a neighbouring car to take ourselves away to Cambridge to visit a friend called Beth. You didn’t need to know her name, but there you go.

Booking was easy peasy. All you need to do is provide your postcode, the dates you want the car, and proof of your driving license (because, duh!) and you can have the whole shebang confirmed within minutes.

When the day came, the experience was, initially, quite weird. We walked around the corner of our flat in Leyton, East London, and Driver Dave and I approached the car, which he described as a Ford Focus.

We felt like we were committing a crime by holding out a mobile phone, and using it to tap and enter, after completing the simple check in process. But low and behold, it all worked. Abracadabra, with no keys involved, the door was soon open sesame. We still looked over our shoulders to see if anyone was watching, despite knowing what we were doing was paid for and legal. But it does feel odd. A bit like the first time you step into someone else’s house via AirBnB. Or when Uber used to feel weird before it became as much of a necessity as oxygen.

So, we were committed to getting used to it. After retrieving the car keys from the glove compartment, which also made us feel like we were in a Mission Impossible movie, we were off. And after that, it was like any other journey. I sang Katy Perry very loudly. And Driver Dave threatened to turn the car around and go home if I didn’t stop the wailing.

Within the hour, novelty fresh, we had arrived in gorgeous Cambridge, right outside the University Arms hotel, which looks like The White House of Southern England, where we were all booked in for two days of London-less fun.

It was, it has to be said, the most stress-free weekend break we’d had since living in this fair capital, travel-wise. No queuing to buy or collect tickets at stations that mean you’ve missed the damn train by the time you get those annoying orange stubs. No mad rush at Kings Cross, being caught under stampedes of commuters, reminiscent of that scene out of the Lion King when Mufasa dies. No tube, then train, then bus then blah blah blah. No Uber, with Capital FM blaring out loudly, as you try and yell over Dua Lipa to ask for anything else.

Just you and someone else’s car, on a road trip. Without all the stress of, you know, actually being a real-life car-owner, with the fears of sky high insurance, the constant issue of parking, and friends – like me – trying to blag lifts on a near permanent basis.

It’s freedom, is what it is. And just as easy on the return too, as was the process of returning the car. Or rather, just leaving it, nice and clean, after checking out, of course, ready to go for someone else to enjoy.

And it isn’t expensive either. You can use Drivy for £27 a day, which is the cost of just one lengthy Uber journey, or £20 for four hours – no subscription needed, with 100 miles a day included in your package, with the option to pay for a reduced deductible for more peace of mind, should you wish.

I’m recommending it to all my fellow London pals, particularly the ones sick of trains, read: all of them, immediately. Except obviously, the ones who already have cars. To them I’ll say, start earning! Putting your own car on Drivy is such an effective a money-earner whenever you know you wouldn’t be using it – just like selling crappy old presents you don’t want on eBay. But you get it back!

Reece Moore, 30, a partnership manager from Stratford has turned it into an art form, after managing to pay for his dream holiday to Singapore by renting his 2016 Renault Clio, for just three months, on the peer-to-peer car sharing platform, Drivy, seeing an extra steady income of approximately £700 per month. Again, jealous!

“My partner and I are heading to Singapore in November and we’re on course to not pay a penny for the whole trip, spending money included, thanks to the extra income we’ve made using Drivy,” he said. “I can’t quite believe it, we’ve always dreamed of heading out to South East Asia and now we’re going all expenses paid.”

That seems to be a very win-win situation then eh? Brighton, Liverpool, Edinburgh and beyond – here we come! Now just need a damn license of my own…