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New kit enables you to rent your car out with an iPhone like Zipcar

30 May 2011

New kit enables you to rent your car out with an iPhone like Zipcar

A new startup called Getaround is looking to jump into the car rental business by following a similar path laid out by Zipcar. Getaround is a bit different, however, because the fleet of rentals are comprised of customer-supplied personal vehicles. This is peer-to-peer car rental, and we're intrigued.

Getaround co-founder Sam Zaid states that vehicles in the United States sit idle for an average of 22 hours every day. By signing your car up for use as a rental vehicle, you (and Getaround) can turn an idle situation into one that makes money.

The car sharing system works by creating a network of users that are connected via iPhone app and the Getaround website. Those wishing to rent their vehicles will receive a car kit that sits on the dash. When a customer has selected a car they wish to rent, you locate the car on a map and use your iPhone to unlock the vehicle. That gets you inside the car, where you can have access to a key hidden somewhere on the inside.

Rates vary by car, but the prices we've seen listed on the Getaround website seem quite reasonable. A Mini Cooper will cost you $5.50 per hour, a BMW Z4 can be had for $15 and you can tool around San Francisco in a Tesla Roadster for $50 per hour. The rate structure is a good incentive to keep people from putting serious mileage on your vehicle, but it also provides a fair deal at an hourly rate. Insurance is covered by Getaround thanks to backing from an unnamed provider, and it's full coverage.

Rental fees are broken down so that Getaround takes in 60 percent of the profit while the car owner receives the other 40. If you're interested in joining beta testing of the program, Getaround is currently offering the program to residents of San Francisco and San Diego.

If you don't mind the having to re-adjust your seat every time you get in your own car and you've got faith in your fellow motorists, this seems like a potential win-win situation for those looking to earn a few extra bucks.

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