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|Articles - March 2013|
|Monday, February 25, 2013|
BY DON MCINTOSH
Getaround, founded in San Francisco in 2009 by a trio of grad students, expanded to Portland last February. Since then the company has signed on 900 vehicle owners, and, at last count, about 500 vehicles were available for rent in the metro area. According to Steve Gutmann, the company’s Portland business development manager, owners have also signed up in Eugene, but for now, only Portland-area rentals have been activated.
Is there room in the Rose City for another car-sharing enterprise? Portland’s car-sharing competitors complement each other, Gutmann says. Unlike Car2Go and Zipcar, Getaround doesn’t own its own fleet. Instead, it’s an online platform that creates a peer-to-peer market out of excess capacity — the car-rental equivalent of Airbnb.
Car owners sign up online, set their price for hourly or daily rentals and make vehicles available for rent on the website. In return for a 40% commission, Getaround facilitates the transactions and pays for insurance.
The company also stresses the social aspect of car-sharing, since owners typically live near the drivers who rent from them. Owners and renters use Facebook to connect and rate each other; the model also brings car-sharing to outlying areas where Zipcar and Car2Go can’t operate profitably.
Getaround’s ad campaign, its first since launching last year, plays up the myriad benefits for car owners and renters. “Maria gets to Forest Park. You get up to $500 a month,” the TriMet spots say. Getaround co-founder and director of marketing Jessica Scorpio says the message is also going out via targeted online video and display ads at sites like Pandora, and in radio spots on KNRK.
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