Americans love their cars—no matter what else changes about modern living, our dedication to driving everywhere remains powerful strong. For folks living in Hoboken, this can be challenging. You either own a dedicated parking spot, pay a monthly fee for parking, or find yourself playing the maddening game of trying to find street parking and evading street cleaning tickets—plus the extra fun of keeping an eye peeled for the sudden, unexpected arrival of temporary “no parking” signs that always pop up five minutes after you’ve parked.
This has inspired some Hoboken residents to give up their cars, choosing to rent a bikeshare for getting around town and relying on public transit and Zipcar for the times they absolutely must have a car. This saves them the costs of keeping a car they might not use much, but starting this week there’s a new option: Getaround, which launches in town on Thursday 4/6.
Rent Your Car
Getaround is a company that allows people to rent their own cars, by the hour, the day, or even the weekend. It’s possibly an ideal situation allowing folks who own cars to monetize them when not in use while offering people without cars the option to rent one for as little as $6 an hour (the car owner sets the rental price, with input from Getaround).
Here’s how it works: The car’s owner signs up with Getaround either by downloading the App (iTunes and Android supported) or on their website; note that Getaround requires access to your Facebook account for identity verification. For renters, you’ll need to be at least 19, a licensed driver for a minimum of two years with a relatively clean record (no DUIs). For owners, you sign up and list your car (which must be model year 2005 or newer, have fewer than 125,000 miles on them, and which seat a max of 8 passengers). Getaround picks up your car and installs its remote access technology (this allows renters to unlock the car when the App authorizes it). You can try the service for 30 days. If you decide to keep renting your car, you have to pay a one-time $99 installation fee, and then a $20 monthly fee to Getaround. You set your rental fee and get 60% of it. Getaround covers insurance, but renters are responsible for tolls and gas. There are also mileage caps.
“Hoboken has long been known for its push toward a tech-enabled, smart city,” says Jacqueline Tanzella, Director of Marketing Communications for Getaround. “It’s only natural for us to launch Hoboken as our first market in the northeast.”
Getaround says car owners can earn an average of $500 a month renting their vehicles. Considering that monthly parking charges in Hoboken can range from $160 to $300, and basic liability insurance for people without points on their license can be around $125, that average income means most people can expect to have their car more or less pay for itself. Owners decide when the car is available for rent.
Some folks in other cities have launched businesses on the back of the Getaround service; over at the Getaround blog, they tell the story of Max Jacobson in San Francisco, who bought five smart cars, which he rents starting at $5.50/hour or $55/day. If you’re playing along at home, that means if his cars are all rented all day every day, he makes $8,250 a month, or nearly $100,000 a year, and all he has to do is basic car maintenance (on five cars, of course).
Of course, allowing strangers to drive your car can be scary. Getaround has strict policies including a smoking ban and guidelines for interactions with vehicles, but accidents do happen. All Getaround offers on their website in terms of helping owners whose cars are damaged by renters (outside of the liability insurance Getaround provides) is the statement “If things don’t go well, we’ll work with you to repair damage and help compensate for down time,” which could mean just about anything.
Another issue is parking; in some cities Getaround maintains parking spots for member cars—though it’s unclear if this will be the case in Hoboken. This could be a huge issue if you park your car on the street, since a renter returning the car after a few hours or days might find it very difficult to find parking. Getaround says “We actively work with cities to reserve dedicated parking spots,” but there’s no indication this has happened in Hoboken yet, so it might be that only folks with dedicated parking will find this useful (Getaround provides a lockbox to store a key or clicker).
Still, like Airbnb, Getaround offers a way for people who already own an asset to monetize that asset without much effort at all. If you’re a Hoboken resident with a car that you primarily drive when moving it from one parking spot to another, earning a few hundred bucks a month without lifting a finger might be pretty attractive.