Skip to main content

I rented a Tesla Model 3 from some dude on Turo, the car-share service

A few blocks down the hill from my home in Berkeley lives a guy named Ethan Dang. We’d never met before, but for two days he gave me his $45,000 Tesla Model 3 to drive around.

We met up through a car-rental app called Turo. The San Francisco company is known as the Airbnb of car rentals. It works like this: One individual owns a car. Another wants to rent it. Turo puts them together.

In the inelegant language of Silicon Valley, that’s known as a peer-to-peer rental. Turo is growing fast — it says it has more than doubled its inventory over the past two years, to about 400,000 vehicles. And it appears to be riding out a consolidation in the app-based alternative car-rental business.

Beyond a couple of hitches with account setup, my Turo experience was smooth. After you create an account, you go to the website or tap on the app. You pull up a map and see the cars available near you, what days they’re available, who the owner is, and how much you’ll pay. With a click, Turo charges your credit card. The app puts you in touch with the owner. The two of you take it from there. Turo also operates valet-service lots in the San Francisco and Los Angeles markets where renters can pick up and drop off cars.

My two days with the Model 3 cost me $316.99: the basic, advertised rate of $110 a day, plus $44 for insurance, $10 for an EV-recharge fee, an $11 cleaning fee (an option I chose in order to avoid possible hassles over smudges on the windows) and a $31.99 “trip fee.” That last one is apparently Turo’s take on the Ticketmaster “convenience” charge, a way to build in profit at the back end while advertising a lower price up front. (Insurance for both owner and renter is handled through Turo by Liberty Mutual.)

Plenty of cars on Turo cost less. Dang also owns a Mini Cooper and rents it out for $53 a day, plus fees. There are Camrys (around $70 a day), Cadillac XTSs ($70) and Escalades ($200) and Fiat 500s ($70). Just about any late-year make and model can be found on the site, but the inventory leans toward luxury and performance cars.

Turo competes with another San Francisco company, Getaround, but Turo is the leader and continues to pull ahead in market share. Its 400,000 listings compares with about 60,000 listings claimed by Getaround.

Getaround uses a hardware device to remotely lock and unlock car doors. That makes pickup and drop-off easier because the owner and renter don’t need to meet. Hardware installation is an added cost and hassle for owners. But the device doubles as a GPS tracker.

Turo gained share against Getaround in part because there’s no hardware cost and hassle for owners. But that makes it harder to track renters who abuse the cars. (Because Tesla uses over-the-air software, Dang was able to track one of his Model 3 renters hitting 130 mph.)

A Getaround spokeswoman said that its hardware makes car sharing more accessible.

“Getaround is several years ahead of the closest competition in connected car-sharing technology, and uniquely own our hardware and patents,” she said.

Mike Ramsey, an analyst at Gartner, said Turo got a leg up by building its inventory faster.

“For car sharing to be useful, it has to be everywhere,” he said.

There are others in the market. Zipcar owns its fleet and drivers leave its cars about town.

Care by Volvo offers the automaker’s cars at a monthly rate — not quite a rental, not quite a lease. Automakers call this a subscription, where drivers can turn in their cars for new models under varying plans. Audi and others offer similar services.

Outdoorsy is similar to Turo, but specializing in RVs and campers.

Turo is capitalized with $470 million, giving it an implied value, the company claims, of $1 billion. Only those investors have access to Turo’s core financials. The company won’t reveal revenue or how much money it’s making or losing.

Some Turo competitors are pulling in their horns. In 2019, General Motors pulled its Maven service out of Chicago, Boston and six other cities, though it’s still operating in nine others, according to the company. A BMW-Daimler short-term rental partnership called Share Now exited the North American market in December. Automotive News said competition from Uber, Lyft and electric scooter companies contributed to its demise.

The companies started their services a decade ago, placing a bet that “peak car” had been reached and new mobility services were necessary to make up for a decline in the auto business. But automobile sales reached record highs over that time, and the services turned out to be money losers.

One advantage Turo and Getaround have is that, while automakers limited app-rental choices to their own models, the upstarts can offer any make or model that owners want to post.

Daimler, Mercedes-Benz’s parent, is a major Turo investor. Nissan is working with Turo in what it calls the Nissan Experience Test Drive. Users in Los Angeles, Salt Lake City and northern New Jersey can rent from Nissan dealer inventories to spend time with a car they might want to buy. If they buy a Nissan, they get $300 back. Porsche provides training and educational sessions through Turo in Los Angeles and San Francisco, where Porsche owners can be trained to become “hosts” for Turo renters, providing exposure to the brand and a way for Porsche owners to help pay for their pricey cars.

Dang, who works full time as an estate liquidator, said, “I’m not doing this to pay off the Model 3.” But because he owns the liquidation business, he has the flexibility to rent out three cars on Turo: the Model 3, the Mini and a Jaguar F-Pace SUV. Recently he bought a Ford Transit Connect van; he’s making it into a camper at his parents’ house in Sacramento and plans to list it on Turo.

Since September, Dang said, he’s pulled in more than $6,000 by renting out the Mini Cooper and the Model 3 on Turo. (The F-Pace is new.) He gets immediate cash flow, and, he said, once the three rental-only cars are sold, he believes he’ll score a profit. How much, he’s not yet sure.

Neither Turo nor Getaround could have taken off without custom insurance that covers both the renter and the owner.

“Insurance is the first question we get from anyone not familiar with the business,” said Andre Haddad, a longtime eBay executive who became Turo’s CEO in 2011. Liberty Mutual is Turo’s exclusive provider.

When Turo renters crash their cars, they can contact Turo rather than their own insurance provider.

“This is a novel kind of insurance. It didn’t exist before,” Haddad said.

Basic liability insurance for the renter is included, but more coverage is available at a price. You can also decide to use your own insurance policy, if your existing coverage allows it. Including your driver’s license information during sign-up lets Turo and Liberty check your driving history and whether you have a criminal record. (The company says it screens all members, but “this varies from person to person.”)

Owners take a bit of a gamble that their car will be returned clean; if not, the owner can charge $50 for cleaning.

So far, Dang said, nobody’s trashed his cars. He’s basically happy with Turo.

“It has some issues,” he said, “but because it’s the largest, it’s the easiest way to find clients.”

His Model 3, by the way, was great fun to drive. I liked the big-screen dashboard; other automakers could pick up some lessons on user interface design. The car’s quality has proven uneven and Tesla service can be a nightmare. But with Turo, those potential problems are Dang’s, not mine.

Russ Mitchell is a Los Angeles Times writer.

Read More


Popular posts from this blog

Car insurance for learner (new) drivers

Car insurance for learner drivers
Learner driver insurance holds a short term vehicle protection policy that insures both your car or someone else while you operate a provisional licence. If you are going to be learning to drive in your vehicle, you can arrange yearly learner driver car insurance which you can refresh once you have passed your examination. Or, you can arrange a short term policy it is completely up to you.
Also, remember to place your L plates on or D plates in Wales or you may risk a six-point penalty on your licence.

Student driver insurance rules
Learner driver insurance grants you to train in virtually any vehicle, in any case long as you have authority, although there are several rules to comply. By law, your obligation is to be supervised by a licensed driving teacher or a qualified motorist who is above 21 years old. The person overseeing you need to have held a full driving licence for 3 years, be qualified to operate the vehicle you are learning in, not be intoxica…

3 Ways to find cheap car insurance (USA)

Find cheap car insurance in 3 easy steps
You want the best product, but require to spend as little as possible. That goal could apply to simply about anything, including car insurance. Everybody wants to spend less on coverage, but how do you find cheap car insurance?  Car insurance costs can alternate by company and region. looking for vehicle insurance can pay off and get you a more affordable deal that still delivers the coverage you require. You should connect car insurance quotes from various companies to find the most suitable coverage and price. But don’t make the mistake of focusing solely on price; make sure you're getting the coverage you need. Also, understand how to compare car insurance before making a choice.  we have provided 3 easy steps you should take to find more affordable car insurance.
1. Comparison shop
Sure, it's crucial to analyse car insurance quotes from multiple markets, but look beyond price. Insurance presents a safety net between you and financial disa…

What is life insurance?

What is life insurance?
Life insurance, which can similarly be recognised as life cover or life assurance is a kind of policy that grants you peace of mind so you and your cherished ones. It can support reduce the financial influence that your death could have upon your family.
Most life insurance plans are created to pay out a cash amount to your cherished ones if you die while covered by the plan. It can support them to deal with everyday money problems such as house bills, childcare expenses or debt payments.
You determine the amount of cover you require and how long you want it for. Life insurance under joint or single names also you can pay your premiums monthly or yearly. For added help, take a look at life insurance calculator preferentially speak financial adviser.
Do I need Life Insurance?
The response to this depends on your personal circumstances. However, if you have people that need you financially, such as children or a spouse who relies upon your income due to the costs join…