Car-sharing service Turo builds slowly, nears 50 cars in metro area

Car-sharing service Turo builds slowly, nears 50 cars in metro area

turo cars

Turo’s website lists just under 50 cars for rental.

If you own a car but don’t use it much, or if you don’t own a car but want one occasionally, your options keep getting better.

First came CarSharing Portland (the company that reintroduced car-sharing to the country in 1998) and its corporate successors Flexcar and Zipcar. Later came car2go, which was like Zipcar but you could return it anywhere inside the service area. And Getaround, which let people make money by essentially turning their personal car into a Zipcar.

Now, Turo is making a bid to increase its usage in the Portland area. The company essentially lets people turn their personal car into a Hertz: it’s like Getaround but it’s optimized for car rentals that last one or more days at a time.

“They are very much focused on the short duration instant mobility whereas we are long duration and travel oriented rentals,” Turo spokeswoman Alessandra Maahs wrote in an email, summarizing the differences between Getaround and Turo.

Turo was known as RelayRides when it launched in 2009 around the same time as Getaround. Rather than focusing on a few cities like Portland, Turo pursued a strategy of building more slowly in many cities. Now they’re up to almost 50 cars across the Portland metro area, to judge from their current website listings.

(Getaround currently lists 84, but unlike Turo they’re all concentrated in the area between the West Hills and Interstate 205.)

One interesting twist to Turo that started recently: Turo renters can pay extra to get personal pickup from any location within the area, such as Portland International Airport. So if you own a car and are also willing to drive it to someone who rents it, you can get paid for the time it takes to deliver it. (Expect to find your own trip home afterward.)

Another airport-related service: Turo customers taking out-of-town plan trips of two weeks or more can leave cars at the airport for free on the condition that they make them available for rental.

Maahs said Portland is currently in the “top 20” cities for Turo rentals. Though this service won’t revolutionize Portland transportation, it looks like one more piece of an ever-growing marketplace of services that are making low-car life in Portland more convenient.

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 –

Disclosure: My wife Mo rents out her car using Getaround.

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