Peer-to-peer car rental startup (and TechCrunch Disrupt winner!) Getaround wants to reduce the number of cars on the road, by enabling its users to rent out those owned by regular folks around them. But to get more cars off the road, first it has to get more cars on its platform. All of which is why Getaround, in conjunction with a Smart car dealership in San Francisco, is offering a pretty sweet deal on new leases of cars that its members intend to rent out to others.
As part of the partnership, the dealership will waive the down payment on three-year leases of new Smart Pure models if the car is put on Getaround. Members will pay $99 for base models, or if they pick an upgraded, they will get discounted rates on the vehicle. The deal, which runs through January 2, will save members who participate about $1,500.
In addition to lowering the cost of ownership to add a new car to the platform, the company will install one of its Getaround Carkits into those cars in order to make them instantly available to on-demand renters.
Those Carkits enable members who list their cars to make them available to Getaround renters, without having to hand off keys. Once installed, renters are able to unlock and gain instant access without having to deal with all the back and forth of determining whether a vehicle is available or not.
While helping to get more cars leased in the next few weeks might seem a little counterintuitive for a company whose mission is to reduce car ownership, Getaround estimates that in the long run each vehicle on its platform takes anywhere from seven to 13 cars off the road.
“We wouldn’t do this deal if we didn’t think it fit with our mission. It lets us get more Instant cars out there,” Getaround co-founder Jessica Scorpio told me. Not just that, but Scorpio points out that these are new cars that are fuel-efficient, safe, and under warranty. That means members who already list cars will potentially be able to upgrade and get rid of their older-model vehicles.
The deal also enables a bit of micro-entrepreneurship for Getaround members who are looking to make a little bit of cash while also getting a new car in the process. The average Smart car owner makes nearly $600 a month. Deduct the monthly cost of the lease, insurance, gas, and maybe parking, and those members could still bring home a fair amount of cash, provided the car is rented regularly.
So here’s the downside: It’s a limited partnership with one dealership in only one area in which Getaround operates. Unlike rival RelayRides, which has opened its peer-to-peer car rental market nationwide, Getaround is still taking a city-to-city approach to its rollout, with cars available in the Bay Area, as well as Portland, Chicago, Austin, and San Diego. But for now, really only SF residents need apply.
But Scorpio said the company is interested in offering the same type of deal in other markets, and is in talks with manufacturers to make that happen. “OEMs are looking for ways to get into the sharing economy,” she said.
Getaround isn’t the only startup that’s partnered with an auto manufacturer to increase supply on its marketplace: Last month, on-demand car service startup Uber struck a deal with auto manufacturers and financing companies to lower the cost of getting a new car for its drivers. That partnership is available in six of Uber’s fastest-growing markets, but it too is looking to expand outside of its initial trial over time.
Anyway, the deal seems like a win-win for both parties, at least in San Francisco: Getaround gets to add to its instant inventory in the Bay Area, while Smart gets to clear out a bit of its own inventory and get more of its cars on the road. Oh yeah, and Getaround members also benefit by having a larger supply of vehicles to choose from throughout the city.
Getaround has raised $19 million since being founded in 2011. Investors include Menlo Ventures, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, A-Grade Investments, Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors, Collaborative Fund, SOSventures’ Sean O’Sullivan, Correlation Ventures, HotelTonight CEO Sam Shank, Yammer CEO David Sacks, Saba Software CEO Bobby Yazdani, Hoteles.com founder Matias de Tezanos, Clarity.fm founder Dan Martell, .CO CEO Juan Diego Calle, Netflix founder Marc Randolph, Powerset founder Barney Pell, WordPress’ Matt Mullenweg, Redpoint Ventures, General Catalyst, Crunchfund, and others.