A car-sharing company that lets people rent their cars to strangers has arrived in Philadelphia, bringing a growing industry that's been billed as the Airbnb for vehicles.
San Francisco-based Getaround expanded last week into Philadelphia — its 15th market since launching in 2011. There are roughly 20 cars available through the service in Center City, North Philadelphia, and South Philadelphia.
The venture-backed company allows people to rent out their cars when they aren't using them. Users find nearby cars through Getaround's mobile app, and once rentals have been booked, consumers can unlock the cars with their phones. The keys are already inside, so there's no need to meet the owners.
"As a renter, you have access to a variety of cars in a variety of locations throughout the city," said Patrick Notti, a Getaround regional manager. "And given the technology that we use, it makes it incredibly easy for someone to rent a car, go unlock the doors with their phone, and then take it for a ride."
Users can rent cars on an hourly basis for as low as $5, though prices vary depending on the make, model, and year of the car and the time of day. The price includes 24/7 roadside assistance and insurance coverage of up to $1 million.
A 2010 Mazda 5 in South Philly was available to rent Wednesday for a minimum of six hours for $33.69, or $5.60 an hour. A nearby 2018 Tesla Model 3 was priced at $135.96 for six hours, or $22.66 an hour.
Getaround has raised $103 million from investors including Braemar Energy Ventures and Toyota Motor Corp., according to Crunchbase. There are more than 500,000 people using the platform and thousands of cars available across cities including Seattle, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Boston, Notti said.
Membership for peer-to-peer car-sharing services such as Getaround reached 2.9 million in January 2017, up from nearly 1.4 million users the year before, according to the Transportation Sustainability Research Center at the University of California-Berkeley. There were more than 131,000 cars available nationwide on all peer-to-peer car-sharing services in January 2017, compared with 73,000 in January 2016.
Much like what Uber did to the taxi business and Airbnb to hotels, peer-to-peer car-sharing appears to be disrupting the car-rental industry. Egil Juliussen, an analyst at IHS Markit, said traditional rental-car companies have recently lost service market share. And the American Car Rental Association has urged lawmakers to make the newcomers subject to the same fees and regulations as car rental giants Hertz and Enterprise.
"With respect to peer-to-peer services, ACRA's position is simple: If you are in the business of renting cars, then you have to play by the same rules as everyone else," John Barrows, an association spokesperson, said in a statement.
Studies have shown that car-sharing is taking vehicles off the road as consumers either sell cars or postpone purchases of new ones. One car-sharing vehicle replaces nine to 13 privately owned cars, according to the Transportation Sustainability Research Center.
"There's a lot of cars on the road right now that sit unused for a considerable portion of the day," said Notti, the Getaround regional manager. "There's also a lot of people who don't have cars that need access to cars. So between those two problems there seems to be a pretty obvious solution, which was 'why don't we let the car owners share their cars with the people who need them.'"
Getaround requires cars on the platform to be at least 2006 models or newer and have no more than 125,000 miles. The company inspects the cars before listing them and installs them with patented devices to let users unlock the cars with their phones. Car owners can list their vehicles on getaround.com/list.
Users who are least 19 years old can start renting by downloading the Getaround app and verifying their driver's licenses. Users must return the rentals to the same locations where they picked them up.