A lot of us have cars, but not a lot of us use cars – estimates suggest our cars are sitting unused as much as 95 percent of the time, which is kind of insane if you think about it. That’s why things like Turo exists, which lets people rent out their vehicles on-demand via an app, Airbnb style. Turo is expanding to the UK today, but its debut there will actually focus on rental fleets, first, and then eventually explore opening up the service to individual car owner, in a bit of a reversal of its typical expansion strategy.
“We’re launching first with what were kind of late adopters of our model in the U.S. We stayed for many years exclusively focused on individuals renting their cars,” explained Turo CEO Andre Haddad in an interview. “We’ve seen in the intervening years some of these individuals become rental entrepreneurs, with 5, 10 or 15 cars. And more recently we’ve seen small rental companies come on board.”
Turo is seeing a decent chunk of its users go on to become effectively small rental operations themselves, and part of what’s driving that is how the economics work for people who list their vehicles on its service. Turo has seen that drivers can recoup enough revenue from renting their cars to cover their lease for the month in as few as a couple of days, letting them enjoy cars they wouldn’t normally be able to own because of financial limitations.
So why the UK for this first overseas expansion? It’s a matter of interest, essentially, as gleaned by observing data gathered from existing activity on the Turo platform.
“15 to 20 percent of our business is now international, and what we found was that UK travelers were the largest group within that 15 to 20 percent,” Haddad said. “What was fun to see was that they were booking sort of the American classics, like the Mustang that they can’t easily find in the UK, or the Jeep Wrangler.”
But it’s not just about where users are coming from; people looking to rent were also looking to the UK and London for rentals, even though it wasn’t one of the markets in which Turo operated at the time.
“They’ve been using Turo more than any non North American group, on the one hand, and on the other , as we were looking at the data coming out of our platform searches and our traffic, we found a lot of people searching for our cars in London and other locations.”
London was Turo’s largest non-North American city in terms of interest, hence the decision to start there with its UK vehicle availability. Haddad says that it’s generally “really excited” about the potential for its model to spread further internationally, however, so it’s reasonable to assume London is just a start.