Meet Turo: Airbnb for Cars

UBER and Lyft may be the heavyweights, but there are many and more companies entering the ride-sharing economy. You can score a seat in a car heading your direction pretty easily these days. But what about the entire vehicle? UBER and the like have absolutely disrupted (read: exploded) the taxi industry, but now a relatively new company is looking to disrupt the car rental industry. Enter: Turo.

Turo is a peer-to-peer car rental service headquartered in San Francisco, though the company was founded in Boston. Turo is most easily described as ‘Airbnb for cars’. They’ve developed a platform for car owners to list their unused vehicles to be rented for extended periods of time. Though the company (originally known as RelayRides) formerly focused on short-term, hourly rentals, they have since pivoted to longer term rentals.

So Turo has found a way, like many of the best startups of the last 10 years, for users to both make AND save money. If you’ve got a car sitting around that you or your family isn’t using, you can list it on Turo and it can start generating some income. If you are looking to rent a car for a few days, Turo is going to be far, far cheaper than renting from a brick-and-mortar car rental company. This dualist value proposition has led to Turo being listed as one of the hottest on demand startups by Forbes in 2015.

Another advantage that Turo has over traditional car rental services is the types of vehicles that you can rent. Turo’s ‘inventory’ is determined by what people are listing, so you will find cars that you’d never be able to get at a Rent-A-Car. Porsche, BMW, Mercedes, Jaguar: all of these luxury brands can be found and rented via Turo. If you are looking for a high-end sports car, Turo’s got you covered. If you need something with four-wheel-drive for some backcountry adventures, Turo can provide. If you need something sleek to impress a date, look no further.


On the other end of the spectrum, there are plenty (if not more) economy options. You can find gas-sipping hybrids, compacts, and regular sedans. Cars on this end can often be rented for less than $20 a day! With the addition of the affordable insurance Turo provides and the gas you’ll use, you’re still saving tremendously compared to traditional car rental places.

Another interesting thing about Turo is that, just like Airbnb, you are interfacing directly with another person. That’s certainly one of the major selling points in marketing campaigns of these companies (see the attached video), but does that really factor into the experience? Is a guest at an Airbnb more inclined to be respectful of the space because they’ve met the owner of it? Similarly, is a Turo renter going to be a more cautious and responsible driver having met the person who owns the vehicle? And if so, is it the fear of facing that owner after the fact that encourages courteous usage? I’m not aware of any market research on the matter, but common logic would suggest that attaching a face to the transaction can bring out the best of us.

In any case, next time you’re planning a road trip, check out Turo!

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Meet Turo: Airbnb for Cars

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