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A new way to get around in a car without traditional rental

December 17, 2012|By Terry Gardner
  • San Francisco is one of the cities where Getaround, a car-sharing company, is available. Rentals can start for as little as $5.
San Francisco is one of the cities where Getaround, a car-sharing company,… (Ben Margot / Associated…)

If you sometimes take a bus or a cab to get around  because you don’t need a rental car for more than a few hours in, say, San Francisco, a car-sharing program could be just what you need.

Getaround is a membership car-sharing service where members can rent another member’s car or rent out their own vehicle. It's available in San Francisco; San Diego; Portland, Ore.; Austin, Texas;  and Chicago. It is being beta-tested in Los Angeles and several other markets.

Membership is free to drivers 19 or older with a good driving record.  Getaround vehicles must be from 1995 or newer and have less than 150,000 miles.

Getaround was founded to get more vehicles off the road. “About 10 years of research conducted by Dr. Susan Shaheen, director of Transportation Sustainability Research Center at UC Berkeley, showed that sharing one vehicle takes nine to 13 off the road,” said Jessica Scorpio, founder and director of marketing.

“Owners love that they can make $350 a month or more, and many are able to pay for their car through the service. Renters love how easy it is, all the great cars they can get -- anything from a Tesla to a Prius -- and that the cars come from actual people.”

Some vehicles cost as little as $5 an hour. Daily and weekly rates are also available, Scorpio said. Insurance coverage is built into the rental fee.  

Instant rentals allow travelers to book a car at the last minute by the website or using Getaround’s iPhone app. Most instant rentals involve vehicles with a Getaround Carkit that permits renters to unlock the vehicle with their smart phone. Other rentals, which involve meeting up with the owner to exchange keys, may require more planning.

Tested: I signed up for the free membership to see what was available. In my ZIP Code, only a 2010 Tesla Roadster came up for $85 an hour. I then tried a ZIP Code of San Francisco’s nearby neighbors, San Anselmo, and 13 cars were available priced between $5 (for a 2004 Honda Odyssey) and $20 (for a 2007 Lexus) per hour. 

Info:  (866) 438-2768 (GETAROUND) or the website.

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