Lynn Walford November 5, 2018

It’s been dubbed the Airbnb of the auto world – peer-to-peer (P2P) car sharing services that are gaining traction here in the U.S. The car owner acts as host and then rents out a vehicle to a guest in a kind of an Airbnb sharing situation. Major automakers offer their own car sharing options or car owners can use mobile-app and web-based options to profit from their vehicles. Sounds like a no-brainer…

“Research shows that cars sit idle most of the day,” says Iman Jefferson, Assistant Manager, GM Urban Mobility and Maven Communications. “Sharing your vehicle is a great way to earn passive income.”

Passive income from my car, now that would be nice. However, the Maven program is only for owners of 2015 Chevrolet models or newer. And I don’t own one.

P2P car sharing company, Turo, was started by a Harvard Business School student Shelby Clark, in 2010, who was walking around in the snow seeing idle cars parked and thought he’d like to rent one. Turo currently is in 5,500 cities and 56 countries. It has 7 million users and 300,000 cars. Turo requires that the vehicle is newer than 12 years old with less than 130,000 miles (209214.72 km) and has a clean title. Hosts meet the guests in person to hand over the car keys.

During a phone interview, Christin Di Scipio, Turo’s Senior Communications Coordinator, answered most of my worrywart questions.

I started by asking her: ‘What if someone shows up to rent my car and he looks and smells terrible?’

“We screen guests but if you don’t like a guest, there may be a cancellation fee, but you can refuse a guest. Both guests and hosts are guests are rated,” Di Scipio replied.

‘Do I have to clean to out all the junk from my car, fast food wrappers, extra set of gym clothes and cookie crumbs?’

“We encourage hosts to offer a clean car at the start of the trip. If not it could lower your rating.” She notes that hosts are also required to keep the tank filled with fuel.

‘How do I know if the guy renting my car doesn’t have a record?’

“We don’t reveal how we check our guests but I can guarantee he will not have a record,” assured Di Scipio.

‘What if they ding up my car?’

She needed to check the documentation. The answer is not that simple. It turns out some dings are considered normal wear and tear. It depends on the size of the ding and what insurance coverage hosts choose. If the damage is under 3” (76.2mm) it is only covered by the premium plan which takes 35% of the rental fee. The premium and standard insurances (25% fee) have no deductibles and cover car rental while a car is being fixed. The premium plan also pays for lost rental fees. There is a $3000 deductible for the basic insurance coverage that garnishes a 15% fee. All insurance plans offer $1,000,000 in liability protection, $125,000 in property damage and covers physical damage for up to the cash value of the car. Before and after photos are required for all claims.

I was almost ready to sign up then I blurted out my ultimate worst case scenario. ‘What if someone with head lice and bed bugs puts an incontinent carsick dog in my car – then goes to Home Depot and loads it up with fertilizer?’

“We’ve got different levels of clean up fees that charge up $250 to clean it,” Di Scipio assured me.

Turo App terms and conditions

There are cleaning fees for pet hair, smoke smell, cigarette ashes and dirt. She then noted that hosts can earn extra money for delivering their cars, other services and charge more for unique exotic cars. In Los Angeles, there is a copy of KITT the Knight Rider car that rents for $199 a day.

So, I checked out Turo’s website. Although a 2017 Lamborghini Huracan rents for $999 a day, an all-electric Nissan Leaf rents for $26.00 a day and the host states ‘No smoke or weed’. So for my Leaf, I could probably get $26.00 – $9.10 (35%) netting $16.90 a day after I spent about four hours hauling the junk out and cleaning it.

There was just one more problem. Turo’s minimum rental is for one day and there isn’t a single day when I don’t use my car at least twice. There goes my passive income…

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