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Getaround gets to LA with peer-to-peer car sharing

Screenshots from the Getaround app, now available in the SoCal area.
Screenshots from the Getaround app, now available in the SoCal area.

Another car sharing company has come to town that'll allow you to make a few bucks renting your vehicle to other people. Think of it like Airbnb but on wheels. The idea has been around L.A. for six years through a service called Turo. Now the company Getaround has opened up shop in SoCal.

What is peer-to-peer car sharing

It's like a car rental service, only instead of renting from a company like Hertz or Enterprise, you're renting from an individual. So someone who owns a vehicle can list it through one of these companies that serves as a broker, either through a web site or an app. The vehicle owner takes pictures, sets a price, gives the location. A person who wants to borrow that vehicle then uses the web site or app to search by make or model or price or location. That person makes a reservation, the vehicle owner accepts, and the person shows up to get the car. 

How Getaround is different from Turo

Like Turo, Getaround is based in San Francisco, but Getaround started its service a year later -- in 2011.  It's only been operating in a half dozen cities, including San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Portland and Washington D.C. and, as of a week ago, Los Angeles. It currently has about 50 cars available and operates in downtown LA, Silverlake, Hollywood and the Westside, though it plans to expand to the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys, as well as the OC.

With Getaround you can rent cars by the hour or by the day. The vehicle owner gets 60% of the rental price and Getaround takes a 40% cut. "Getaround has a differentiation in the technology we use," said Getaround's general manager for LA, James Correa. "Specifically, the Getaround Connect, which is a small device we install inside the car. It's completely unnoticed underneath the dashboard, and allows for keyless entry into every car.

Turo started as a service called RelayRides back in 2010 and expanded nationwide in 2012. So in the L.A. market, it has a six-year start on Getaround, meaning it has exponentially more vehicles than Getaround. The minimum rental period is one day; you can't rent by the hour. As a vehicle user, you have the option of having the car delivered to you instead of picking it up from the vehicle owner. But it doesn't have remote vehicle access, so people using the car either have to meet the vehicle owner or coordinate on where to find the key. Turo takes a 25% cut of the rental fee and the owner gets the rest.

Why vehicle owners and renters use peer-to-peer car sharing

On the user side, it's usually people who don't own a car and need to go somewhere that's too far to get to with Uber or with public transit or hitching a ride with a friend. Sometimes it's people who need a specialty vehicle for some reason, like a truck or van.  Or people who want a long-term test of a car they're thinking of buying. On the vehicle owner side, it's mostly about making extra money from something that's parked 95% of the day.

What about insurance?

Both Turo and Getaround carry $1 million umbrella insurance polices on each rental, which covers liability, collision, property damage and theft while it's being used as a rental. For the person who owns the vehicle, most insurance companies now include a form asking if you're using the car for rentals.. that could increase rates for the vehicle owner even if the claim on their car is ultimately processed through the car-sharing company.

More car-sharing will come to L.A. soon

Tesla talked about this two years ago when the company rolled out its Master Plan Part Two. Elon Musk calls it the Tesla Network, and it will operate like a combination of peer-to-peer car sharing and Uber and also be autonomous.  So in the future Tesla owners can let their vehicles be used for a driverless ride-hailing service. We just don't know exactly when, like a lot of things with Tesla.

In terms of non peer-to-peer car sharing, there are more options, including ZipCar. GM also has a service called Maven that operates at a bunch of places here in LA that lets you rent cars by the hour, day, week or month. There's also a service called Car2Go, but that isn't in L.A., at least yet.
Next week, on April 20, LA's Department of Transportation will launch its own car sharing service called BlueLA, renting out 100 electric vehicles in downtown, Koreatown, Pico Union, Echo Park, Boyle Heights, Westlake and Chinatown.