Harvard Business School classmates Shelby Clark, Nabeel Al-Kad, and Tara Reeves were impressed by the business models they saw at Airbnb and eBay. They believed that they could accomplish something similar with cars, using the same basic peer-to-peer model. Founded in 2009, the company was originally named RelayRides. Later, the decision was made to renamed itself Turo in 2015.
Turo teamed with GM and their OnStar program to enable owners to unlock their vehicles using their smartphones. Although this was later discontinued, it was just the start for Turo to enable clients to work together.
Turo offers more than 800 makes and models of vehicles. Owners offer their cars, sometimes including delivery, in more than 2,500 cities and 300 airports across the U.S., Canada, and the United Kingdom.
Unlike other car rental agencies, Turo does not own the vehicles, nor does it perform maintenance. Turo simply provides the platform by which customers and car owners can connect.
People who wish to generate income from their vehicles while they’re not being used can register the cars with Turo online to be rented by other Turo members. The car owner states the time and place where the car will be available. A client wishing to rent the car reserves a specific time slot for the car online and pays for the amount of time they signed up for. Car owners can set their own prices or use Turo’s dynamic pricing suggestions. The company takes 25% of the sale. In most cases, renters pay approximately 35 percent less on average than a traditional rental car company.
Turo covers vehicles with up to $1 million of liability insurance to protect car owners against lawsuits for injuries and property damage. All renters are also screened for safety. Cars must have less than 130,000 miles and be a 2005 model or newer to be listed on the site, although there are a few exceptions allowed, such as listings for antique cars.
In 2015, Forbes listed Turo as #14 on their list of “Hottest On-Demand Startups. Headquarters are located in San Francisco, California.