File - Employees work on the assembly line of the new Renault Espace car at the Renault automobile assembly plant in Douai, northern France, November 26, 2014. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol
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The humble smartphone could throw a spanner in the works of the car sector's post-crisis turnaround, with the big manufacturers facing a long-term threat from apps that make it easier and cheaper to share or hire vehicles than to buy them.The rise of the likes of car hire app Zipcar and car-pooling rival BlaBlaCar are expected to present new challenges to mass-market carmakers such as Ford, GM, Volvo, Renault and Volkswagen while presenting fresh opportunities for existing rental networks.ARK Investment Management, meanwhile, says that a rise in car-sharing to 5 percent of all journeys could almost halve U.S. auto sales.Gary Paulin, head of brokerage firm Aviate Global, said the trend would also benefit car hire companies such as Avis Budget Group and Hertz but could be more challenging for the traditional carmakers.SYZ analyst Barin believes that carmakers could still cope with the car-sharing phenomenon because the smaller cars used in such schemes might have to be replaced quickly and manufacturers could focus on producing such vehicles.
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