Testing Out Turo, The P2P Car Rental Service – Forbes

Turo Tesla pulling up to a customer.
Turo bills itself as an AirBnB ABNB for cars, and after using it twice in two different cities, I can say it has the same kind of digital convenience and individual differences as the more-famous peer-to-peer apartment rental service. In an era when rental cars can be hard to find or, if you can find them, incredibly expensive, Turo is a welcome, if quirky, alternative.
I used Turo in Missoula, Montana and in Austin, Texas in late 2021 thanks to some promotional credit from the company. Other than that bonus, my rentals were carried out exactly the same way as anyone else would have done, where I booked the cars myself and communicated directly with the vehicle owners without them knowing I was a member of the media.
Last year, Turn’s most-booked models ran the gamut from the newfangled to the practical to the performance side of things. The most-booked vehicle from US hosts in 2021, based on the number of trips booked, was the Tesla Model 3, followed by the Toyota Corolla and then the Ford Mustang. The Toyota Camry and the Jeep Wrangler rounded out the top five. I rented out a Hyundai Accent and a Chrysler 200.
Booking a car through Turo is a relatively simple affair. You scroll through vehicles either on the Turo smartphone app or the company’s website. As you can see when you peruse potential rides, the choices you have and the daily costs vary wildly from place to place. You can search by the type of vehicle you’re looking for, too. Something electric, perhaps? A pet-friendly ride? Or perhaps an off-roading beast or a luxury set of wheels to impress a date. Current Turo prices range, roughly, between $100 and $200 a day. In the U.S., you need to be at least 18 with a valid driver’s license and go through a short approval process to rent a car through Turo. Once you’ve been approved and rented yourself a car, you can add additional drivers with no extra fees, which is convenient.
Turo logo on a city scene.
Booking a car is just the first step, or course. Once you’ve selected your ride and have made arrangements to pick it up – in my case, the vehicle owners dropped the cars off at the airport public parking lot and gave me instructions on how to find it – you need to contribute to Turo’s clever way of keeping renters and hosts honest. The process is straightforward, if a bit time-consuming. The vehicle owner uploads a series of interior and exterior pictures to the app, which you as the renter can then see. As you get into the vehicle, you upload your own set – confirming (or, when there’s a problem, not confirming) that the owner’s images match what you see. When you return the car, you take the same series of images to prove that you didn’t damage anything while you were behind the wheel. Other than these changes, using Turo is pretty much like renting from a traditional agency, just with more personality in the rental car.
Using Turo introduces you once again to the concept of non-uniform randomness. Just like you’re never quite sure what level of cleanliness your next Lyft LYFT or Uber UBER will provide, you don’t know how getting into your Turo will work. The first time I rented one, the owner simply hid her key for me behind the gas cap door. It’s the “no one will ever guess the location” method of keeping thieves away. My second experience used a key lock box, similar to what you’d find on an unoccupied rental house, but designed to fit over the driver’s side window. Both methods work, and I’m sure there are other ways Turo drivers let renters into their vehicles. Hopefully, once more cars become available with digital keys – that is, ways to allow access to a car through an approved smartphone – that will quickly become the preferred method of access for more Turo users.
These kinds of high-tech features could find their way to Turo vehicles soon. The company said recently that it’s heard from some of its hosts that they’re planning to make some of the most hyped new electric vehicles on the site, once they’re actually available. The list includes the Tesla CyberTruck, the Rivian R1T truck and the R1S SUV, the Lucid Air, the Ford F150 Lightning, the Hummer EV and the Fisker Ocean.
The Fisker Ocean electric vehicle is unveiled at the Manhattan Beach Pier ahead of the Los Angeles … [+] Auto Show and AutoMobilityLA on November 16, 2021 in Manhattan Beach, California. (Photo by Patrick T. FALLON / AFP) (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)
In general, using Turo is easy and straightforward. One thing to pay close attention to is any fees that the renters or the company add to your reservation. For example, there was a $60 “delivery fee” added to one of my rentals at the last page before checkout, something that wasn’t communicated in earlier steps of the reservation process and something I didn’t see until I’d already clicked “submit.”
One of the best parts of Turo is that you at least get a small, temporary connection with the people behind the car you’re renting. I won’t get into the details in order to protect privacy, but I did leave something in the car I rented in Austin. It was a small thing, just a piece of paper, but an important one. I let the owner of the vehicle know and he promptly sent it to me in the mail, no questions asked. It was a little thing, but a human one. And that’s where Turo can really outhustle your standard rental car company, when you get lucky.


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