The cars are also available in Brighton, Bristol, Glasgow, Coventry and Edinburgh, but it's in the rural areas where WhipCar can really clean up, unlike the car clubs. "The issue with the traditional car club model is that it starts to break down in less populated areas because of the overheads--maintenance and securing the fleet, and there's a problem with access. They're free midweek, but never at weekends. They have those kinds of challenge. This is highly scaleable because, whereas it doesn't make sense for a rental firm to be in a small village in Wales, we've already got a car there."
But getting the word out in rural areas is more difficult than in cities. Gupta, however, leaves a lot of the marketing to the owners. "We look at our owners as Avon Ladies. We give them the tools to help them market their vehicles, everything from personalized business cards to posters and flyers that they can put up in their local supermarket or coffee shop. We give them personalized URLs to market themselves on the web, and we've got social tools in development as well." At the moment, it's left to the individuals to market their cars via Facebook or Twitter, although they are in the throes of launching an active campaign. They've also delivered a voucher code that allows owners the opportunity to give discount vouchers to valued customers.
So what about launching abroad? I have a theory that WhipCar is totally suited to the U.K. market--Brits are pretty laid-back about their possessions, and wouldn't be that bothered about the odd scratch on the bodywork, or latte spillage or dog hair in the interior. Would the service go down well in the U.S., which is by nature more litigious? Driving in Continental Europe--as a former resident of both France and Spain, I have first-hand knowledge--is more Lewis Hamilton than Lewis Hamilton's home country.