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Uber, Airbnb, and Tesla are all examples of major industry disruptors that proved that the industries needed disruption. It seems like the next industry heading for disruption is the rental car market. Turo is here, and it is using the Airbnb model to undermine and overturn the stranglehold that car rental companies have on temporary car needs. The question is, is Turo the best way to rent a car?

What’s wrong with current car rental services? 

Mallorca car rental fleet full of rental cars
Rental cars are prepared at a rental car depot | Clara Margais/picture alliance via Getty Images

If you’ve ever gone to Hertz, Enterprise, Budget, U-Haul, and countless others, the traditional car rental market has plenty of room for improvement. As with every other industry in 2020, COVID exposed many flaws in the car rental market. The fleets these companies have to maintain are expensive, inefficient, and messy. Case in point: Last year, 230 Hertz customers filed lawsuits against the company for being wrongfully arrested for stealing cars they legally rented. To make a long story short, if employees couldn’t find a certain car, they would file a police report, assuming it was stolen, as opposed to conducting an internal search first. This is just one example of how bloated these companies became. 

Once it was clear that COVID was here to stay, many large car rental services sold all the cars, assuming traveling was dead. Then when these companies realized that they were wrong, they bought up as many cars as humanly possible, thereby driving up demand and depleting supply. This is one of the reasons we are in the position we are in now with the price of new and used cars. 

What is Turo? 

Turo is most simply Airbnb for cars. Instead of going to Hertz and renting a cheesy car that has been ragged out by millions of drivers, Turo offers individuals to rent their personal cars to people like you would with your home on Airbnb. 

This removes the corporate pitfalls of scale and replaces it with a personalized relationship between the person who has the car and the person who needs it. The best part, by a country mile, is the variety of cars you can rent. Unlike the big box car rental services, which give you a large category from which your specific car might belong, Turo shows you exactly the car you will receive. This is not only fun for enthusiasts who might want to drive a specific model and trim but also for people who are looking to do a certain kind of travel, say for families with kids or with older members. 

Is Turo Easy to use? 

Turo, like countless other modern services, is an online, app-based service. You browse the cars in your area on the website or the mobile app, select the one you want, and then correspond with the owner to secure the pickup. You often have the choice to either meet the car’s owner wherever the car is or have the car delivered to you (often for a fee). The one real pain point is photographing the car from every angle, even the interior, to keep a record of the condition of the car when you took possession. Ultimately, this serves to protect the renter, but it can still be tedious and time-consuming. 

Is Turo cheaper than other car rental companies?

Car rental pick up and drop off offices area
Car rental off offices | Getty Images

In general, Turo probably isn’t the cheaper option. Unlike giant corporations who make their money by performing services in high volume, Turo renters often need to make the rental worth the time and effort because it might only serve as a side hustle. Either way, it is hard for an individual to compete with corporate pricing. That said, Turo is an individual-to-individual service, meaning you can’t ignore the variables that come with such a transaction. 

For many, a slightly more expensive price tag is often worth it if the service and experience are better. Aside from anecdotal issues with an individual, Turo seems to be a pretty good idea that is serving its purpose to disrupt the way we rent cars. As with all other disruptors, it will likely need to continue to adapt in order to remain competitive, but so far, Turo is making a lot of sense.