They are businesses that own hundreds of thousands of cars, with sales up to billions of dollars each year. But in the face of a changing transport industry, even the big car rental companies in the world are afraid to be left behind.
Technology background advantage
The largest car rental companies in the United States have secretly spent years waging a legal battle against startups, including Turo. The company, founded in 2009, has changed the way people rent and own cars based on a car-sharing platform (peer-to-peer).
Like Uber in the taxi industry and Airbnb in the previous hotel industry, this is a battle between the old business model and the model based on modern technology, inspired by the sharing economy.
Traditional car rental models are run by well-known brands, guaranteeing safety and predictability for customers. For example, at any airport, customers can be assured that they will receive a car.
But the new business model offers customers a customized, personalized experience. Customers can choose a flashy Tesla car for an exciting ride or simply a Ford F-150 pickup to carry things.
Each model has a different way of renting, but the key to long-term success depends on the value perspective of owning a car. In the US, the price of a new car averages about $ 33,000, making many people wonder if there’s any way to add value from their investments.
Turo, and other car-sharing companies, are proud that they help car owners maximize value by renting cars in their spare time. For drivers, Turo offers flexibility and convenience.
Jon Norris, 42, a former employee of the rental car company who lives in Bethesda, Maryland, and works in the field of cybersecurity, said that the procedures are complicated, waiting time, as well as The unnecessary stress is the reason for Turo to thrive in recent years. Norris has been using Turo’s service to rent out two of his Audi cars since November last year. He often meets customers at the airport, giving them keys as soon as they get out. No paperwork, no credit cards, no hassle, Norris said.
“When I gave the car to the customer in the airport lobby, they downloaded everything they needed to the previous app. Customers only need 2-3 minutes to get on the car and make the trip, ”said Norris, who earns about US $ 1,500 per month thanks to car rental. “At the airport, everyone wants to get in the car and go.”
Turo allows 200,000 car owners to post information online and rent them for as little as US $ 10 a day. Turo leader said Turo is a technology company, not a car rental company because they do not own any cars. Therefore, they are not subject to the relevant legal regulations like a traditional car rental company.
The battle between the new and old models
The American Car Rental Association (ACRA), which represents car rental companies, doesn’t think so. They say car-sharing companies like Turo are obviously a car rental company. The only difference is that traditional car rental companies have to comply with state and federal regulations, but Turo doesn’t. At the same time, ACRA also proposed that if the law can make car-sharing companies to comply with the same regulations as traditional car rental companies.
According to ACRA, the purpose of this petition is to create a “level playing field”. Car-sharing companies are enjoying unfair advantages. The ACRA argues that members who rent cars on the company’s sharing platform can bypass the authorities’ inspections and vehicle recalls when the car fails, causing passengers to travel on the road. The goods become dangerous. In addition, they are also allowed to operate freely at the airport without having to park in a separate area, making the airport chaotic and congested. This argument is supported by airports, as they make billions of dollars each year from renting out parking spaces to these companies. However, companies like Turo say that big car rental companies are killing competition by stopping technological innovation.
According to experts, if the car-sharing network is allowed to thrive, then the car rental industry giants that have been on the market for a long time now have reason to be concerned.
“The company’s advantage in a shared economy compared to traditional car rental companies is that they don’t have to own a large fleet of cars, they are compact in size, easy to change and understand the market well. more, ”says Alexandre Marian, an industry and automotive director at consulting firm AlixPartners. “Car rental companies see the new business model as a potential threat. And they should if they want to live in this business. ”
Turo and Getaround – another company in the same field – are well-known startups in the sharing economy. Nearly 5 million people have signed up to rent or drive through Turo in the past two years. The company is currently valued at about US $ 700 million. And Getaround has operations in 14 US cities and has more than half a million users. This business model was so promising that General Motors and Ford – a longtime investor of Getaround – had to speak up in support. In March, GM confirmed plans to launch a pilot program that would allow GM car owners to rent their cars when not in use.
For their part, ACRA officials say they support a shared economic model and recognize its popularity. In a statement sent to The Washington Post, Enterprise Rental Car – a member of ACRA said that the company itself caused market disruption 60 years ago and the company “is always open to new ideas and creation”.
But the announcement said: “We believe the playing field should be equal and fair to everyone – and this is especially true for safety issues such as private airport parking and rules. related legal regulations … ”.
In response, Turo’s government relations director Michelle Peacock said, “Enterprise Rental