ó A couple of times a month, Baltimore resident
Patrick Campbell hands the keys to his BMW 335is
two-door coupe over to a stranger to drive for a few
Campbell, a 53-year-old technical marketing consultant
who works from home, renting out his BMW and his Audi Q5
sport utility vehicle through car sharing app Turo has
become routine and just makes sense.
offsets your car payment if you can rent your car
out," said Campbell, who said he progressed into
car rentals after becoming an Airbnb host years ago and
renting rooms in his home. "I got very comfortable
with the sharing economy and letting people use my
stuff, so to speak, but also getting money for it was
kind of cool. I canít drive all my cars at once. Why
a question more people are asking themselves as mobile
apps make it easy, efficient and secure to earn extra
income by letting people borrow cars and RVs, stay or
eat meals in their homes, or hire themselves out to run
errands or help with household chores. Consumers who
have become increasingly comfortable seeking out
services online have been attracted by competitive
prices, flexibility and sometimes, a personal touch.
that act as online middlemen are increasingly letting
people arrange fees to share or borrow goods or
services, including companies such as ride share apps
Uber and Lyft, accommodation booking service Airbnb,
online peer-to-peer credit marketplace Lending Club and
Task Rabbit, which matches "taskers" with
people who need help assembling, mounting or moving
furniture or with handyman jobs.
can now use the internet to intermediate," said
Brent Goldfarb, associate professor of strategy and
entrepreneurship at the University of Marylandís
Robert H. Smith School of Business. "The internet
now allows coordination of these activities in an
who also uses an online app to rent out an RV he owns,
often gets request from business travelers from out of
state looking to bypass a traditional rental in favor of
a nicer car for less money or local people looking for
an upgrade for a special occasion.
people return the car in clean condition," Campbell
said. "Most people are friendly. Thereís usually
no sense that Iím letting a scoundrel take my
a San Francisco-based peer-to-peer network, connects
owners who list their cars with renters who register,
with the company screening both sides. Owners and
renters arrange to meet personally to hand over the
keys. Much like Airbnb, car owners write online reviews
of renters, while renters write review of owners.
which expanded nationally in 2012, said total sign-ups
ó both car listings and rentals ó have jumped from
54,000 in the United States and Canada in 2012 to more
than 2.3 million last year, which includes 121,000
like other online platforms, allows buyers and sellers
alike to create and build reputations.
Iím trying to lease my car to someone who calls me
through a want ad, I have a big trust factor," said
Goldfarb, also the academic director of the Smith schoolís
Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship. "Thereís the
problem of how do I know the person renting from me is
legit and will return the car, and on the other side how
do I know this car is something I want to rent? This
platform solves those problems."
Turo, owners set their own prices, based on supply and
demand, with Turo getting a percentage thatís based on
how much insurance coverage owners want.
renters, the company advertises its rentals as 35
percent cheaper, on average, than traditional rentals.
network credits itself with inventing the type of
insurance coverage that makes the arrangements possible.
The company offers $1 million in liability insurance
through Liberty Mutual that supersedes an ownersí
policy during a rental period, covering repair and
replacement. The company declined to disclose claims
rates, said Steve Webb, Turoís director of community.
he said, "youíre meeting a fellow car enthusiast,
or a neighbor, and shaking their hand and looking them
in the eye. When that happens youíre more likely to go
above and beyond for that person."
Lasker, 35, has rented her gray Smart car, which she
calls Walter, more than 100 times on Turo. Lasker
typically rents it for up to $45 a day. Last year, she
grossed more than $5,900 from her rentals, enough to
cover monthly car payments and usually earn a profit.
car was just sitting there and taking up a parking spot,
so instead of just letting it sit there, I figured Iíd
rent it out and try to make money," said Lasker,
who said she has her husbandís car, Lyft or the bus to
fall back on if she needs a ride.
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Smart car is rented out frequently, she said, by people
running errands or taking a day trip to Washington. Itís
also popular with college students in the city, she
someone else needs it, and I donít need it that day,
and theyíre willing to pay me, everybody wins,"
Lasker said. "Everyone is polite and respectful of
the car. People are more mindful when theyíre renting
from an individual."
who rented Laskerís car commented in online reviews on
car was fun and easy to drive," one renter wrote in
January. "Erika was a great host that communicated
quickly and was flexible. I would definitely recommend
this car, and I will rent it again if the opportunity
has been backed by some of the biggest names in venture
capital, including Canaan Partners, Kleiner Perkins
Caufield & Byers, Shasta Ventures, August Capital
and GV, formerly known as Google Ventures.
like marketplaces where people arenít getting decent
returns on their assets and where other people donít
have access to those assets," said Deepak Kamra,
general partner at Canaan Partners in Menlo Park,
Calif., which led a Canaan $25 million round of funding
in 2014 and has joined in subsequent funding rounds.
"People can rent for six or seven days a month and
pay off the entire car. Itís like having a free car.
To us, thatís a compelling economic payoff."
General Partner Joe Kraus noted in an email that cars
rank second to houses in the biggest purchases consumers
that car loses value just sitting in the garage,"
Kraus said. "Turo offsets the cost of buying a car,
and changes the economics by turning a depreciating
asset into a way to earn money."
said itís difficult to measure how successful or
profitable such online marketplaces will be long term,
partly because many are bolstered by heavy venture
capital funding. Still, he said, many of the ideas make
suspect weíll see more of these platforms to help us
utilize our unused resources more efficiently," he