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The Green Life: Getaround Gives Zipcar a Run for its Money

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May 31, 2011

Getaround Gives Zipcar a Run for its Money

Trading keys Driving sustainably is never easy. But a new app, Getaround, makes it simpler. The neighborhood car-sharing service allows members to arrange hourly, daily, or weekly rentals at rates decided by the car's owner. Getaround then takes a cut, provides insurance, and assures 24-hour roadside assistance. Membership is free. 

And check this role reversal out: Not only do the renters review the car owners, but the owners actually rate and review the renters too. Filthy car back? The whole Getaround community will know.

Though the company accepts members from all across America, so far it operates only in the San Francisco Bay Area and in San Diego. Its stable of vehicles ranges from Prii to all-electric Tesla roadsters, though having stellar MPG is no requirement for entry.

Matt Willard, a member of the Getaround support team, said that, just this week, Getaround had registered enough vehicles to make their fleet 20% the size of Zipcar’s. Their membership is in the several thousands. Willard added that Getaround shows up Zipcar on several fronts; it connect people in more rural areas and doesn’t purchase more cars to add to the road. Instead of buying a teen a car, parents look over at their neighbor’s and say, “You can just rent that,” Willard imagined. In theory, he added, 1 million Getaround cars could take 10 million active cars off the roads and reduce carbon emissions in equivalence of 1 billion trees.

Getaround's concept isn't unique — there's RelayRides, which launched in Boston (Google's already invested in it), and Sprideshare, whose members have to wait a few days to get a keycard in the mail to access vehicles. But so far Getaround is the only service which you can access via iPhone.

--Juliana Hanle

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