Getaround wants to help you start your own car-sharing business

Getaround, the peer-to-peer car-sharing service, is launching a new program to help support people who want to rent out more than just a couple of cars. The program is called Power Host, and it’s designed to help customers manage small fleets of shared vehicles.

Getaround, which operates in 800 cities globally and has over 6 million users, created the program in response to a growing number of its customers seeking to start a small car-sharing business for themselves. After an initial steep drop in bookings after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Getaround has since seen its demand bounce back. And now people are looking for ways to use the platform in a more professional capacity.

“We just started seeing a significant increase in owners who had a few cars [and] who wanted to buy more,” Dan Kim, chief operating officer at Getaround, told The Verge. “They were seeing a lot more demand and they wanted to just have more vehicles and more service.”

He added, “Our hosts were asking for help on how to grow the business. We responded with a program that really helps anybody who wants to use Getaround as an opportunity to grow their business and to do so effectively.”

As a Power Host, customers will get access to a personal account manager from Getaround who can help them manage their fleets. Getaround will also supply Power Host users with data that will help them figure out the best place to put their cars. For example, if Getaround sees that demand for a car rental is high in a certain neighborhood, the company will let its Power Host users know the best places to park their vehicles, especially those spots that are reserved for Getaround customers.

Getaround provides a $1 million insurance that covers the vehicle’s owner while it’s in use, and access to a 24/7 hotline for both the vehicle owner and the customer who is renting it. The company says its insurance policy includes “comprehensive, collision, and liability coverage,” though the vehicle is only covered while it is in use. The company also provides guidance to vehicle owners on best practices for cleaning, maintenance, and sanitizing their fleet to ensure customers are protected from any possible contagions.

Kim, who formerly worked as the head of Airbnb plus and head of global sales and delivery at Tesla, joined the company in October on the heels of a $140 million investment deal that brought Getaround’s total known venture funding to $600 million. He said that the business is recovering from the dramatic decrease in demand that it experienced at the start of the pandemic and was looking for new revenue sources as it continues to work its way through its recovery. Kim noted that car-sharing is asset-light compared to legacy car rental companies, in so far as it doesn’t own its fleet of vehicles, and is less dependent on business travel.

Several reports surfaced last year that car thieves were using car-sharing apps like Getaround to find and break into cars that had the keys left inside. Kim said that while those incidents were uncommon, Getaround works with law enforcement to help recover the vehicles for their users. The company also is working on new technology, such as safer lock boxes for keys, to deter theft.

It’s also working on improving its carbon footprint. Kim says research shows that car-sharing helps reduce car ownership, which helps decrease the amount of carbon that is emitted into the atmosphere. He noted that, unlike most car owners, which tend to purchase large gas-guzzling trucks and SUVs, the most popular cars on Getaround are smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles, like Tesla or Toyota Prius.

“Perhaps you might drive the same number of miles, but maybe you’re driving more efficient cars, you’re driving cars that are more appropriate for your use case,” he said.