Getaround, “the Airbnb of cars”, arrives in Philadelphia

Car sharing has been around in Philadelphia for decades, thanks to companies like Zipcar and Philly Car Share (now owned by Enterprise). But this new service is different. Instead of renting cars owned by the company, you rent cars owned by your neighbors.

If you think this pattern sounds familiar, yes: Move bills itself as “the Airbnb for cars”.

It will officially launch in the Philadelphia area on Thursday, August 2, and already has about 20 cars ready to rent by the hour, day, or multi-day.

Priyan is one Philadelphian who’s on board and ready to roll — or at least, is ready to let others roll his Tesla around town.

The Philadelphia resident, who preferred to use only his first name, heard about Getaround while researching car sharing a few months ago. He was looking for a way to be able to continue to afford the electric Elon Muskmobile. “I wanted to take the emotional aspect out of the car so that I could use it as an entity to make money, but also have my dream car,” he explained.

Teslas aren’t the only cars listed on the service, which has been an active app since 2009 and is available in 10 other cities. There are Priuses and F-150s and all kinds of vehicles – and, like Zipcar or other services, prices vary by style.

By Getaround’s San Francisco site, Teslas start at $25 an hour. On average, the most “modest” or older cars usually cost between $5 and $7 per hour, which is comparable to other services.

In order to put your car into service, you must pass Getaround’s verification process. Qualifications include a 2006 or newer model car with 125,000 miles or less. The car must then be inspected and tested on the road to ensure driver safety.

Drivers are also vetted, so if you have a bad driving record, this probably isn’t for you. Once you’re approved, the company guarantees up to $1 million in insurance per car. There is also 24-hour roadside assistance.

Unlike other carsharing services, drivers don’t need a card or key fob to unlock the rental. Every car listed on the site has been fitted with “virtual safe” technology so you can open the doors by entering a code through an app.

Here’s a squeaky publicity video that explains all the details with goofy acting (you’ve been warned).

Getaround Regional Manager Patrick Notti oversees the service’s northeast corridor (Boston, New Jersey, DC and now Philadelphia). The expansion in Philadelphia is because the city is a “key footprint” in the region, he said, with many cars available and strong demand for a “greener” car rental option.

According to a study by University of California Transportation Sustainability Research Center, each shared car frees up to ten personal vehicles from traffic jams, reducing congestion and reducing carbon emissions. The center said 1,000 shared “recycled” cars could offset up to 50 million pounds of carbon dioxide.

There’s also that parking issue — with carsharing, you don’t have to worry about that.

Although it retains a 4.9-star rating on the Apple Store, online review sites are full of not-so-great Getaround experiences.

walk around the apple store

To the Better Business Bureau, 43 customer complaints and 18 negative reviews have been listed. Common complaints include depreciating car value, renters dirtying the car, having to pay for your own gas (as renter and as owner), and random rental cancellations.

Another one review on Quora explained that his shared vehicle was stolen, which he believes is due to rental cars being targeted for theft because the Getaround logo decal attracts them. If they know the business well enough, they know the keys are inside the car. (He did, however, earn $7,000 a year for three years on Getaround).

It is then difficult to predict what the response to Getaround will be and what the quality of service in Philadelphia will be. It is currently available in the downtown area.

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