Logo for Getaround peer-to-peer car sharing service on the side of a car in the Silicon Valley town of Mountain View, California, August 24, 2016.
Smith Collection/Gado | Archive Photos | Getty Images
When the coronavirus pandemic put a halt to nearly all travel, Anwar Ali was forced to store a fleet of cars he rents out through car-sharing platform Turo in an unused gym in Kauai, Hawaii.
Now, his company, Ali’i Rental Cars, is booked solid for the month and has a waitlist. And that’s even after adding 20 cars to his fleet, as travel demand rebounded and tourists discovered traditional auto rental places were booked solid.
In the Atlanta and Chicago area, car-share hosts have similar stories. Tatiana Pisarski, a Turo host in Atlanta, said she has rental requests two to three times a week. This year’s bookings are more than the last three years combined, she said. In June, she felt confident enough to order a Tesla Cybertruck, and plans to rent it when it’s eventually delivered by the dealer.
The lack of readily available reservations from the big car rental chains this summer as well as a desire for a unique rental experience are factors prompting travelers to turn to car-sharing platforms such as Turo and GetAround. In response to the higher demand, some car-sharing hosts are doubling down on their businesses by expanding their fleets. Some are finding success by providing customers with a personal touch that isn’t possible for Hertz, Enterprise and other big chains.
“As summer travel surges, Turo has emerged as a critical platform supporting both increased consumer demand and entrepreneurial opportunity,” said Turo’s CEO, Andre Haddad, in July. “With traditional rental car companies having limited inventory and charging sky-high rates for the cars they do have, our hosts have been able to capitalize on this moment in time, building thriving businesses by listing their personal cars on Turo, and scaling their businesses to serve their goals.”
On Monday, the Daimler-backed company confidentially filed paperwork with regulators for an initial public offering in the United States.
Ali was working as a youth pastor and his wife was expecting their first child when he listed a 1998 Isuzu Rodeo on Turo. Within 24 hours, the car, which he had nicknamed Ruby, was booked for the week. It was the family’s second car, and living in Lihue, a hot spot for tourism on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, he had hoped he would make a little extra money.
Ali heard about peer-to-peer car-sharing through a pop-up ad on Mint. It was just the minimal capital business opportunity he was looking for. Other businesses he had considered needed a lot of capital to start. With this, he took an underutilized car he already owned, and made $200 on his first transaction.