Logistical brilliance and legal hassles

Startup Flightcar finds a new market in the sharing economy, along with regulatory hoops that always seem to be flaming:

Their company, FlightCar, rents out people’s cars while they are traveling, and gives them a share of the proceeds, free airport parking and a car wash in exchange. And their lot has had a few unusual rentals, including a 2001 Porsche Boxster and even a Lotus…

These companies are, however, also running up against government regulations. In FlightCar’s case, San Francisco city officials and those at the airport say the company is undercutting rental car companies at the airport by acting like a rental company but ignoring the regulations that govern them.

“We’re simply trying to enforce a consistent standard,” said Doug Yakel, an airport spokesman.

On one hand, anyone with a modicum of experience in logistics must scratch their head and ask “How do they do that?” Scheduling the rentals around inbound and outbound clients, accounting for the possibility of travel changes, determining fuel needs, keeping shuttles rolling, not to mention pricing the nearly limitless variety of offerings, means these bright young entrepreneurs have already built some real value.

On the other, you stare at the empty palm wondering how many of those regulations, those consistent standards, were designed solely to keep innovators from undercutting rental car companies. And ensuring the paid lots continue pillaging their “customers” too.

MG signing off (because only your friendly neighborhood lobbyist knows for sure)

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