Turo announced Thursday it has “imminent” plans to expand its operations in British Columbia, after it was able to secure insurance coverage from ICBC.
The San Francisco-headquartered company says it is the world’s largest peer-to-peer, app-based carsharing platform. It first launched in Canada in 2016 and has grown to 850,000 members across Canada and 35,000 cars listed in Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, and Nova Scotia.
In 2017, it conducted a pilot program in BC in partnership with independent car rental companies.
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When ordinary car owners are not using their private vehicles, they can enable their car to be used by Turo’s carshare members.
With private vehicles in BC used just 4% of the time, and with an average annual operational cost of $7,700, the peer-to-peer carshare service provides car owners with a new way to make some money on an asset they already own.
Elsewhere in Canada, car owners who put their vehicles into the peer-to-peer fleet earn an average of $620 per month. In 2019, peer-to-peer carshare services in the country saw a 90% growth in use.
For individuals without vehicles, such services offering unique vehicles — everything from economical options to luxury cars — could eliminate the need to purchase their own car.
The company believes they could help fill the large void left by the recent departures of Car2Go/ShareNow and Zipcar, which both suffered from the high operating and maintenance costs of owning their carshare fleets. Both companies also required significant upfront investments to acquire their vehicles and parking.
As well, in the era of low-barrier, low-cost ride-hailing, carshare services need to find a way to become more nimble and reduce their costs.
“The peer-to-peer platform model that Turo has developed is far more flexible and agile. By relying on cars owned by private individual car owners, Turo avoids the heavy operational overhead of car purchasing, financing, maintenance, and parking while offering a better customer experience based on car selection, convenience and price,” Cedric Mathieu, VP and Head of Canada of Turo, told Daily Hive Urbanized.
“This allows Turo to grow faster than any other fleet-based service and to offer cheaper prices on average for customers.”
The company performs “extensive guest screenings” and provides 24/7 roadside assistance and comprehensive insurance for each reservation.
For the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, the company has implemented a number of health safety measures that enhance cleaning and sanitization.
All car owners, called “Turo hosts,” are required to clean and disinfect their cars before each trip.
“To prepare hosts for this, we will be providing step-by-step online training, sending active Turo hosts disinfecting spray and wipes, hosting webinars with auto cleaning and disinfection experts, and partnering with local auto cleaning providers,” said Mathieu.
“We will also be expanding contactless options in the future to be able to pick up the car without meeting the host.”
They also have a “worry-free” cancellation policy that allows guests to cancel their trip if they are concerned about the cleanliness of their Turo car. The support team will also rebook them in a new car free of charge.
Turo has yet to announce an official launch date, but BC residents are encouraged to list their cars on the company’s website and download the Turo app.
The 2010-founded company also operates its services in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany. It has over 10 million members, with nearly 350,000 vehicles listed and over 900 unique models.