Would You Use Airbnb for Cars?

Imagine rolling up to your class reunion in a vintage Mustang convertible. How about loading your family and all their stuff in a Honda Odyssey minivan for vacation? With a short-term rental service, you can get the car you want whenever you need it.

New online rental sites are doing for cars what Airbnb did for spare rooms and vacation homes. These sites pair car owners with users to rent cars and trucks on a peer-to-peer basis. You can reserve a vehicle for a day, a week or more. These sites also offer a great way to spend time with a car you’re thinking about buying without a pesky salesperson getting up in your business.

Several services have sprung up to serve this new market. They’re mostly located in major cities where there are enough people with cars to spare. Some drivers will pick you up at the airport to use a car while you’re in town, or they’ll meet you at their house, your house, or a public place for the pickup and drop off. You pay for the car on the app, so no money changes hands between individuals. The sites provide insurance for the car owner in case anything happens to their vehicle.

Car sharing is growing

Several sites offer short-term rentals. Right now, Turo is the biggest of the bunch. Founded in 2009, it’s grown to more than 6-million users in the U.S. and Europe, boasting 250,000 vehicles of more than 850 different makes and models.

For car owners, Turo provides $1-million in liability insurance. Car renters get 24/7 roadside assistance. Turo says the average owner makes $720 a month, and fees are 35% less than traditional car rental agencies.

Turo just developed a new app that allows car renters to locate, book and unlock cars from their phones. The owner has to have special hardware installed on their vehicle to make it work.

GM has started Maven for owners of Chevrolets, Buicks, and Cadillacs, to make their cars available to rent. GM cars use the OnStar system that can lock and unlock the vehicles and communicate by voice with an agent.

GM says car owners pay more than $8,000 per year for insurance, maintenance, fuel and depreciation. With Maven, owners can recoup some of those costs. The system is being rolled out in 17 U.S. cities. Membership for users is free, and rates start at about $8 per hour plus tax. You can grab a car to pick up someone at the airport or run errands.

Porsche is dipping its toe into the waters with Porsche Drive, a short-term rental service that’s available only in Atlanta for now. You can summon a Macan, Cayman or 911 to your door within two hours for a short-term rental.

Tesla wants to get in the game with Tesla Fleet, which could pave the way for transportation as a service business. Electric cars are more like appliances because they don’t require as much maintenance as gas cars and plug into an outlet to refuel. Experts say it could be around 2023 when autonomous cars become more practical before Tesla enters the market.

If you’re looking for an exotic or interesting car, check out DriveShare from Hagerty Insurance, which offers insurance for collector cars. There are about 600 cars in their system, so while there’s not a lot of choices, there are some really cool options.

How about a 1965 Corvette convertible for $258 a day? Or a 1974 Jaguar XJ6 for $169? In the vein of “go big or go home,” click on the 2018 Ferrari 488 Spider for $1,349 per day – plus a $5,000 security deposit.

Should you rent your car?

Experts say the average car is parked for 22 hours a day, so why not make some money off that expensive asset? Owners typically receive 60-75% of the rental fees via direct deposit from the platform.

Insurance is a big consideration. These sites typically offer liability insurance for their users. But check with your insurance company to see what’s covered under your current policy. You may have to beef up your coverage. Some states have changed their insurance regulations to make it less risky for individuals to rent their cars.

Financial considerations aside, would you want a stranger driving your car? That’s something you’ll have to come to terms with on your own. Some of the services will pay for a car wash after the vehicle is returned to you.

If you can do without your car for periods of time, or have a vehicle to spare, consider signing up to rent it. It’s like putting your money to work for you. If you need a short-term rental or want to experience a different vehicle, check out one of these sites:

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