Getaround, the ‘Airbnb for cars,’ has landed in Philadelphia

A Silicon Valley import is expanding to Philly with plans to shake up the carshare economy.

car-chinatown-getaround
Flickr Creative Commons / jpellgen; Billy Penn Illustration
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Carsharing has been a thing 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 out company-owned cars, you rent out cars owned by your neighbors.

If you’re thinking that model sounds familiar, yep: Getaround bills itself as the “Airbnb for cars.”

It officially launches in the Philadelphia region on Thursday, Aug. 2., and already has about 20 cars ready to be rented out by the hour, the day or multiple days.

Priyan is one of the Philadelphians who is on board and ready to roll — or at least, is ready to let other people roll in his Tesla around the city.

The Philly resident, who preferred to use only his first name, heard about Getaround while researching carsharing a couple of 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 still have the 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 depending on the style.

Per Getaround’s San Francisco site, Teslas start at $25 an hour. On average, the more “modest” or older cars usually go for about $5 to $7 per hour, comparable to other services.

In order to get your car on the service you need to pass Getaround’s vetting process. Qualifications include a car model that is 2006 or newer, with 125,000 miles or less. The car then needs to be inspected and tested out on the road to ensure the safety of the drivers.

Drivers are also vettted, so if you have a bad driving record, this is probably not for you. Once you do get approved, the company guarantees up to a million dollars in insurance per car. There’s also 24-hour roadside assistance.

Different from other carshare services, drivers don’t need a card or key fob to unlock the rental. Each car listed on the site has been equipped with “virtual lockbox” technology so you can open the doors by entering a code via an app.

Here is a cringy advertising video that explains all of the nitty-gritty with awkward acting (you’ve been warned).

Getaround Regional Manager Patrick Notti oversees the service’s Northeast Corridor (Boston, New Jersey, D.C. and now Philadelphia). The expansion to Philly is due to the city being a “key footprint” in the region, he said, with lots of cars available and strong demand for an “eco-friendlier” car rental option.

According to a study by the University of California Transportation Sustainability Research Center, every shared car takes about ten personal vehicles out of gridlock, which alleviates congestion and reduces carbon emissions. The center said that 1,000 shared “recycled” cars could offset up to 50 million pounds of carbon dioxide.

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

Though it maintains a 4.9-star rating on the Apple Store, online review sites are replete with not-so-great Getaround experiences.

apple store getaround

On the Better Business Bureau, 43 customer complaints and 18 negative reviews were listed. Common complaints include depreciation of car value, renters dirtying the car, having to pay for your own gas (as a renter and as an owner) and random rental cancellations.

Another reviewer on Quora explained that his shared vehicle was stolen, which he believes is due to the rental cars being targeted for robberies because the Getaround logo decal attracts them. If they’re familiar enough with the company, they know that the keys are inside of the car. (He did make $7000 per year for three years while on Getaround, though).

It is difficult then, to predict what the response to Getaround will be and what the quality of the service will amount to in Philly. It’s currently available in the Center City area.

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