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To use AAA’s newest service–a one-way car-sharing startup in the Bay Area called Gig–you don’t have to own a car. The nonprofit, which is best known for its roadside assistance, is piloting the service as one step toward a future where self-driving cars, and dropping rates of car ownership, mean that the organization’s traditional business model needs to change.
Gig is the first service to come out of AAA’s new innovation lab, called A3 Ventures, which is dedicated to finding new ways to serve the organization’s members as transportation changes. The service aims to fill a gap in local transit options, beginning in Oakland and Berkeley. Unlike other car-sharing services in the area, it’s designed to be one-way; you don’t have to return it in the same place you pick it up. Instead, through an agreement with local government, the cars can be parked in almost any parking space in both cities.
“Unlike traditional station-based models where you go out shopping for the day and you’re paying for the car while you’re not using it, while it’s sitting there parked, with the one-way model, you can take a car, drive to where you’re going, end your trip, and not have to pay for a vehicle while you’re doing whatever you’re doing,” says Hetke. “And then grab a different car to drive back home.”
“By charter, we’re not a for-profit member service organization,” says Hetke. “We exist to create value for members, we don’t exist to create value for shareholders or make a giant profit. So we should be constantly reinvesting our profits back into new sources of value for our members . . . [Gig] is part of a longer vision of how AAA would be positioning itself to be that consumers’ advocate in consumers making the shift to a world where cars drive themselves.”