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Getaround Peer-to-Peer Car Sharing Is a New Model in U.S.

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The Getaround Carkit

The Getaround Carkit installs in your car and lets renters access your car via their smartphone.

The latest entry in the shared-car business is the San Francisco-based peer-to-peer startup, Getaround, whose goal is to solve “car overpopulation” in the United States. Unlike Zipcar, the first car-sharing service in the U.S., which owns a fleet of cars it has to maintain and operate, Getaround owns no vehicles.

A Getaround press release explains:

For as little as $3 an hour, members can conveniently rent nearby cars by the hour, day, or week, and save hundreds or even thousands of dollars on auto payments, insurance, and maintenance. […]

Getaround enables car owners to ‘un-idle’ their cars and offset the cost of vehicle ownership by sharing with friends, co-workers and neighbors, while people seeking cars are provided easy, affordable access to vehicles everywhere. Getaround differs from other car sharing services by offering an open marketplace that gives owners total freedom over their vehicle’s pricing, availability and selection of renters. Additionally, the Getaround Carkit and iPhone app together make it easy for members to conduct entire transactions using only their smartphone. The service provides community and financial benefits to both owners and renters, backed by the peace of mind of A++ insurance carrier Berkshire Hathaway.

In fact, Getaround’s website says: “Share your car and earn money while you’re not using it. Sharing your car just 15 hours per week can earn you an extra $350 each month.”

In Good magazine’s blog Business, Nina Lincoff quotes Sam Zaid, co-founder and CEO of Getaround:

Every day in America, 250 million cars are parked and unused, said Zaid. If Getaround could get 1 million ‘shared’ cars on the road, it would neutralize 10 million privately-owned vehicles and potentially get 48 billion pounds of carbon dioxide pollution out of the air. While 1 million cars seems like an awful lot, it’s not impossible. In the first day of its public launch in May, Getaround signed-up about 1,600 users. That’s close to 20 percent of Zipcar’s 8,500 car fleet, which took 11 years to build.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) recently chose Getaround to participate in a joint initiative with the city of Portland, Oregon, to use $1,725,000 in federal funding to launch its car sharing in the greater Portland area by February 2012 after an initial launch at Portland State University. Portland commuters and car owners began signing up for Getaround on December 13. The company says it will work in tandem with the Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium to research the dynamics and impacts of peer-to-peer car sharing, making Portland “the test bed” for peer-to-peer car sharing nationwide.

FHWA awarded the grant — the first of its kind — to Getaway for this pilot program based on the company’s novel technology, insurance program, and successful track record in making it possible for car owners to safely and easily share their cars in other metropolitan areas, such as the San Francisco Bay area.

Zaid said, “Since our inception, Getaround has viewed the city of Portland, OR as a perfect place for our service. Residents here have a reputation for being early adopters of innovative ways to solve transportation problems in the U.S., including traffic and pollution. We look forward to bringing the Getaround experience to Oregon to reduce car overpopulation while empowering people to turn a costly asset — which on average sits idle 22 hours per day — into something that can generate sustained revenue.”

Getaround is totally free for renters and car owners to join with no membership fees. You can get answers to frequently asked questions and sign up to participate in the pilot program in Portland, OR, at

Image by Getaround, used under Fair Use: Reporting.


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