Getaround has some high-profile supporters. The peer-to-peer car sharing service recently raised $13.9 million from investors like Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer and Google’s Eric Schmidt, and now it’s expanding to Chicago with the help of Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
The idea behind the San Francisco-based startup is to make it safe and easy to take a spin in a stranger’s car. The company launched in 2009 and has grown quickly, expanding to cities like Portland, Ore.; Austin, Texas; San Diego; and now Chicago. It’s signed up over 10,000 car owners across the country. Chicago is its fifth city and is the company’s first foray into the Midwest.
With options including the Toyota Prius or a Tesla Roadster, Getaround offers car rentals from $3 an hour, and car owners make an average of $350 per month from listing their car. It makes money by charging a 40 percent commission — this may seem high, but it’s a darn sight better than leaving an unused car to gather dust in a garage.
The startup competes with Zimride, Relay Rides, and others, but has signed up more cars than any other service and recently eclipsed Zipcar. It’s competitive differentiator is the hardware kit, which lets users unlock a Getaround car with a smartphone.
Emanuel, the former the White House chief of staff to President Barack Obama, said that a service like Getaround is crucial for Chicago’s residents, especially those with a vested interest in reducing traffic and emissions.
“As mayor I am focused on improving all transportation options for Chicagoans,” he said in a statement. “This is another step toward this goal of a comprehensive transportation network and will be a win/win for the city and its residents.”
In addition, Chicago is the second city to beta-test Getaway, the new service that launched in August. It allows car-owners to rent their car out for an extended period of time and is perfect for college students or travelers. On Getaway, car owners are guaranteed $1,000 a month, or Getaround will make up the difference.
“Chicago is a natural fit for Getaround,” added Sam Zaid, the CEO and founder of Getaround (pictured above). “We believe that the city is ready for a new and different way to think about car ownership.”