‘Airbnb for cars’ comes to Canada, lets you rent your ride
Move over Budget and Enterprise, get ready to compete with just about anybody who wants to use their vehicle to make some extra cash. Turo, a San Francisco-based company that is best described as an Airbnb for cars, has just launched in Canada.
The concept is simple. The company helps people rent their cars to strangers. Turo started out as RelayRides in 2009 and operates a peer-to-peer car marketplace that has rented thousands of cars for over 1 million days throughout its short history.
“Our mission is to try to put the world’s cars to better use,”says Andre Haddad, Turo’s CEO.
Canada is the company’s first international expansion and the service will only be available in Ontario, Quebec and Alberta. As well, Canadians must be existing customers of Intact insurance or its subsidiary, Belair Direct. Intact has struck a deal to provide up to $2 million in commercial insurance for Turo users.
“Consumers want to participate in services like Turo,” says Stephanie Sorensen, director of external relations for Intact. “We want to ensure that insurance coverage is available.”
Turo creates a profile of the vehicle that is available on Turo’s website and app, with photos and information about the cost. Users have their choice of vehicles and afterward both sides can review and rate the experience. Both users and owners have to go through a screening process before being able to use the service.
For drivers, Turo has no membership fees and all they need to do is sign up. For people who would like to rent their cars, the vehicle needs be to less than 10 years old and have less than 200,000 kilometres on the clock, with some exceptions. There are more than 800 models available for rent, and drop off and pickup is often included.
Many users praise the personal connection created between owners, users and their vehicles. Haddad has rented several cars on the service, including a 2006 Porsche 911 model S that he says has been used for several special occasions including three engagements.
Turo offers a dynamic pricing model that suggests what users can charge, but the car owner ultimately decides how much. Turo takes a 25-per-cent cut. The company initially offered short-term rentals, but has found the longer-term rentals are more popular and focuses on them. On average, cars are rented for five days. Turo claims that prices are generally 30-per-cent lower than traditional rental car companies, and that the average active user who rents out their car makes $600 (U.S.) a month.
Insurance has been an issue. The company paid over $200,000 in fines to New York state because of violations of insurance laws, including false advertising and unlicensed activity. New York is the one U.S. state where Turo does not operate.
Josh Bilerman, who owns a web design company in Montreal, is a Turo fan. .
“I’ve used it numerous times. I like the simplicity of the website and the ability to see reviews of the car,” he says. “You’re able to get luxury cars, convertibles, whatever you’d like.”
He enjoys the convenience of dealing with the car’s owner and making arrangements for pickup and drop off directly.
“That flexibility has been way better than dealing with the hassle at rental car counters,” he says.
Kyle Clark, 32, a video producer at a software company in Denver, has become a Turo super user. After trying the service two years ago to make some extra income on a single car, he now has eight vehicles on the service and is running it as a side business.
Clark borrowed money to buy the cars and says they are all paying for themselves. He expects them to be paid off in three years. One car had a minor fender bender, which the driver’s personal insurance ended up covering. In another incident, his car was damaged in a hailstorm. Turo’s policy didn’t cover the damage, but it did pay the $500 deductible. His personal insurer paid for the repair.
There are a few online Turo horror stories most of which relate to unsatisfying insurance outcomes. There are also complaints about the company’s customer service.
Turo is not the only company in this space. Getaround is a similar type of service, which says on its website that Toronto may be unlocked as a market soon.
Here’s a look at other ways to make some extra cash.
Airport parking can be pricey, so FlightCar, which operates at 12 U.S. airports, will put your car to use while you’re off on a business trip or holiday. List your vehicle and in exchange you’ll get free parking and a car wash. If it’s rented by a member, you’ll make some extra cash.
Two U.S. companies – Boatbound and Sailo – have already launched, offering up sailboats, catamarans and even luxury yachts. Boatwyze, based in B.C., has a handful of vessels in Ontario.
Is that mountain bike just gathering dust in the garage? Put it on Spinlister, which operates in Toronto. Owners set their prices, so hourly, daily or weekly rates can vary significantly. The website also offers up surfboards and ski equipment.
Are your closets jammed with clothes that you don’t wear or that don’t fit any more? Poshmark, which only operates in the U.S. and its territories, lets individuals buy and sell their items on the website, with shipping via priority mail, with the buyer paying the cost.
Got a parking space and it’s not being used all the time? Rent it out. Companies like Rover and HonkMobile, which is running HonkQ in beta testing right now, serve as brokers, taking a commission on the space rental. Rent the spot when you wish, day or night.
Heading off on vacation? Turns out there are dog lovers who will happily take your pooch for a fee. Try the DogVacay service that pairs owners with sitters—some will watch your pet in your home, while others take in dogs at their homes.