Turo, formerly RelayRides, is a company that operates a peer-to-peer carsharing marketplace. It allows private car owners to rent out their vehicles via an online and mobile interface. The company is based in San Francisco. From 2013 to 2014, RelayRides was the subject of an investigation in New York over violations of state vehicle insurance law that resulted in $200,000 in fines. Forbes included it among 14 "hottest on-demand startups" in 2015.
Shelby Clark founded RelayRides in 2009, along with Harvard Business School classmates Nabeel Al-Kady and Tara Reeves. The peer-to-peer carsharing concept was inspired by similar online marketplaces such as Airbnb and eBay. Deciding to leverage underutilized vehicles as a resource, Clark proposed a model "for the community, by the community".
The service was first launched in Boston in June 2010. In late 2010, it expanded to San Francisco, where it is now headquartered, and in March 2012 it launched nationwide in the US.
In 2012, Turo partnered with major automaker General Motors and their OnStar division to help renters unlock GM cars with their mobile phones. In September 2013, however, RelayRides announced they would be discontinuing their Onstar technology integration to strategically focus on the fastest growing part of their business, long duration car rentals.
In May 2013, the New York State Department of Financial Services issued a consumer alert, warning that RelayRides was misrepresenting insurance coverage for users of its program, and a cease-and-desist letter ordering RelayRides to stop operations in New York. RelayRides suspended operations in the state and was eventually fined $200,000 for false advertising, unlicensed insurance activity, and other violations. New York is now the only U.S. state where Turo is not available.
While the company originally focused on short-term, hourly car rentals, over time, the majority of its growth was driven by longer duration rentals of 1 day or more. In 2013, RelayRides acquired Wheelz, one of its competitors, and discontinued support for hourly pricing of car rentals, turning its focus to long duration rentals. The average rental for the company is now more than five days. It started targeting travelers when it piloted the option to search by airport in 2013 and launched a delivery option in 2014 (the owner of the car drives it to a pick-up point).
From 2010 to 2014, RelayRides received $52.5 million in funding from Canaan Partners, August Capital, Google Ventures, Shasta Ventures, and Trinity Ventures.
In November 2015, RelayRides rebranded as Turo; the company claimed this was to reflect the company’s shift away from short-term rides and raised another $47 million in Series C funding led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Forbes included it among 14 "hottest on-demand startups" in 2015, with a valuation of $311 million. The company announced it would expand to Canada in 2016. USA Today also listed it among the "best technology to take on a trip," and it has also been listed as a "best travel app."
On its website and app for iOS and Android, 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. and Canada.
Unlike traditional car rental services, Turo neither owns the vehicles nor maintains them. Rather, they offer a platform for car owners and renters to connect, resulting in reduced rental costs as compared to traditional car rental services.
People who wish to generate income from their cars while they're not being used can register the cars online to be rented by other Turo members. The car owner states the time and place where the car will be available. A traveler wishing to rent a 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, and the company takes 25%. The travelers pay around 35 percent less on average than a traditional rental company.
Turo covers vehicles with up to $1 million of liability insurance to protect car owners against lawsuits for injuries and property damage. Cars listed must be 2004 or newer with an odometer reading below 130,000 miles, with some exceptions. All Turo users are screened for trust and safety purposes.