Startup Aims To Become ‘Airbnb For Cars’

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — By now, you’ve likely heard of Airbnb, but what about a similar concept for cars? Car owners can rent their wheels to travelers through a site called Turo. Owners report making money, while users say they’re saving.

Eric Patenaude bought a new SUV and wondered if he could use the older one to make money versus selling it. He found his answer.

“I Googled ‘Airbnb for cars,’ thinking I could rent it and I found Turo,” Patenaude said.

He signed up for Turo, the service that allows regular people to rent out their cars.

“You tell them what your year and make of your car is, you upload photos of your car and then you enter basic things in like your availability,” Patenaude said.

His rental, and dozens of others around the Twin Cities, are listed on Turo.com. You can select the make, model and price of your choice. Patenaude lives close to the airport, so for an extra fee he does an airport pickup.

“I’ve got a car I’m not using it constantly, and if someone will pay me to use my car and I’ll make some money on it, it’s kind of a no brainer,” Patenaude said.

He’ll drive the customer back to his home, where they do a walk through, then hands over the keys. Reno and his wife opted for this kind of rental on an excursion around the state.

“It’s cheaper for one thing — you have personal contact with the person that owns it.” Reno told WCCO.

He even haggled the price.

“This is saving me over $100 over the nine days, so it’s a savings, it’s a nice car. This way here I knew exactly what I was getting,” Reno said.

“We feel we are at the forefront of the way people are looking at their possessions,” Turo representative Steven Webb said.

From the San Francisco headquarters, Webb said the service works especially well for those looking for a modification, like a bike or ski rack. And he said there are protections in place for owners and renters.

“We feel we provide a marketplace that is safer than the general marketplace in transportation and the way that we do that is by providing an insurance policy through Liberty Mutual, screening both travelers and hosts to make sure they’re safe and to provide two-way ratings and roadside assistance,” Webb said.

So far Eric says it’s working in his favor.

“I average something about $25 to $40 of profit per day. I think that’s the thing I like about it is, it’s business that allows someone, to let someone rent and I make a little money and they get a little cheaper deal so it kind of works both ways,” Patenaude said.

Turo offers different levels of insurance for the car owner. That determines what cut Turo gets. The owner keeps between 65 to 85 percent of the price.

Click here to learn more about being a host or renting on Turo.

More from Jennifer Mayerle
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