AirBnB, a startup that provides a marketplace to connect travelers with people who have some room for accommodation to spare in cities, has seen considerable success (and drawn a little controversy as well) with its model. Today, we’ve come across a nifty startup called GetAround that has taken AirBnB’s model and applied it to car rentals.
The startup, which provides a social car sharing service, says that cars are driven only 8% of the time, while potential drivers have trouble finding short-term rentals at an affordable price on the fly. The platform seems fairly simple. Owners can post their cars on the site that are available for rental. Those interested in rentals can search for rentals in their neighborhood or near an address for a fixed time. Once users find a car that meets their requirements, they can arrange a key-swap with the car owner.
In private beta, GetAround even provides a key swapping technology to owners, called the CarKit, which allows renters to unlock a car via an iPhone app.
In terms of pricing, GetAround, which has no monthly fees or dues, provides recommendations based on similar vehicles, but owners are able to set an hourly, daily, and even weekly rate that they prefer. The startup claims that renting your car for only 15 hours per week can earn you over $350.
But will car owners be willing to rent to a complete stranger? Owners can choose to approve each renter before they are allowed to drive the car, and GetAround insures each car in its system under a master policy that replaces an owner’s personal auto policy for the rental period. Renters are required to return the car at the same gas level as when they received the car while owners have to keep their car 1/4 full with gas during rental periods.
It should be interesting to see if GetAround can gain traction in the car rentals space. The startup will no doubt face competition from car-sharing service Zipcar, which recently filed for an IPO. And UberCab could also turn on the AirBnB model as well.