Turo: The Airbnb for Cars. The Answer to Car Rental Disruption?

Turo car rental disruptive app

Only in the U.S., there are over 300 million cars and these cars are used 2 hours a day on average, which means more than 90% idle time. One would think we would already have the equivalent of Airbnb, but for peer-to-peer car sharing.

It turns out we already have it for almost 10 years, which most people don’t know about.

Turo was founded in 2009 and of course in San Francisco with the name Relay Rides.

The company grew steadily thanks to early adaptor car owners and drivers who chose to trust the service in San Francisco and beyond.

I use the service for 3 years now wherever I travel in the U.S. and I feel the service provides an exceptional experience while staying on budget.

There are obvious great advantages for the service.

  • One can save more than 35% compared to renting from traditional car rental agencies.
  • You can rent a wide range of cars including sports, exotic car, SUVs, pickups, etc. which can include Tesla, Ferrari, Porsche, Jeep Cherokee to name a few. I myself have the used the service and have been pretty happy with it without any complaints. I rented convertible BMWs, Tesla Model S, Porsche Boxter, Jeep Cherokee and more for mostly 40% of the price that I would normally rent using a traditional car rental service. That is if I could of course find those cars.
  • You can rent instantly and optionally the car can be dropped and picked from a selected location, for example, the airport, with or without an extra payment depending on the choice of the car owner
  • Whoever invented the review system basically invented the shared economy. I believe it was Amazon. Since both the car owner and the renter leaves a review, the system auto-controls and works itself mostly. If you have ever used Airbnb, it basically works the same way

Turo in numbers:

  • Available in 56 countries
  • 5500 + cities across the U.S., Canada, the UK and Germany
  • $500+/mo average owner earnings
  • $3000+/mo average owner earnings with 3 cars
  • $1M in liability insurance provided by Liberty Mutual
  • Received total funding of $187.4M
  • Biggest funding was in September 2017, Series D, $104M led by Daimler, Liberty Mutual and more.
  • 10 million users in the app
  • In 2012, there were 4600 listings and now, over 200k
  • Total sign up in 2012 was 54k and now, 4million+

So, if you want to start earning money from shared economy which is better, renting your home via Airbnb or your car via Turo

  • A car owner makes $500/mo on Turo and a homeowner makes $924 on average on Airbnb
  • Maintenance can be higher for the car especially your car is non-electric
  • Cleaning can be bigger issue for Airbnb
  • Car depreciation is around 60% over the first 5 years

So, basically, as how I see it, the best way to benefit most from Turo is to buy a used EV preferably a Tesla Model S, since:

  • It is high end car that you can rent for higher prices. A Tesla Model S is rented for around $200/day
  • An EV needs much less maintenance than combustion engine cars since there are no moving parts like transmission, pistons, etc.
  • The depreciation on Tesla is much less

You can rent your car maybe two days a week, pay the loan using that amount and enjoy your Tesla all the other days


You can rent it every day you can to start your small business around your car.

As in everything, whether you are renting your apt or car, it is best to start small. Renting it a few times a week would show you with real experience if you want to grow it gradually or not.

There are extreme cases that people take Turo very seriously. A man who rents on Turo had his 38 cars that are rented on Turo parked on the same street made the neighborhood people furious. This is not only early adaptor, it needs a medal from the CEO for becoming an official pioneering rental company in Chicago.

If you buy a Tesla, you will not only enjoy renting your car for higher rates and enjoy a low maintenance amazing car when you are not renting it when the car pays for itself, but you will also be able to sell it with less depreciation than other cars.

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