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Everything Canadians need to know about the company known as the Airbnb of cars

Have you heard of this more affordable option?
As gas prices soar in B.C., a car rental company offers people in Vancouver and across North America a way to save money during the pandemic in 2022.

If you were planning on going on a road trip this summer, you might be put off by soaring prices at gas stations. 

While it used to cost significantly less to travel by car across the province, locals can fly to Kelowna from Vancouver for less than a tank of gas. It's not uncommon now to see one-way fares under $50 CAD on shorter routes and a few across Canada for under $100

And gas prices aren't any cheaper south of the border, either. As such, renting a car while in your destination isn't as affordable as it once was. 

Rental car prices hit record highs during the pandemic, up 38.6 per cent in February 2022 versus February 2020, according to a NerdWallet analysis of U.S. Consumer Price Index inflation data.

If you decide to rent a car, prices can vary dramatically depending on the rental company, whether you’re renting from an airport location versus downtown, and how far in advance you book.

But there are now a couple of car-share rental companies that might be an affordable solution when traditional offerings charge sky-high prices. 

Turo offers a car rental alternative in North America

San Francisco-based Turo Inc. launched in Vancouver just after the start of the pandemic in June 2020. The company describes itself as the "world's largest peer-to-peer car-sharing platform" and services numerous cities in North America. 

The company began operating in Canada in 2016 and is active in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, and Nova Scotia. It services numerous popular destinations in the United States and Canada such as Los Angeles, Honolulu, New Jersey, Montreal, New York, San Diego, and Toronto. 

Customers can browse a range of different vehicles to rent, including everything from the classics to luxury vehicles, vans to trucks, convertibles to sports cars, and everything in between.

The peer-to-peer concept offers a way for car owners to make money, earning an average of $620 USD per month, according to the car-sharing platform. Hosts list their cars for free and set their own price as well as the schedule for when it is available. 

Owners will get paid via direct deposit within three days after each trip and earn 75 per cent of the total earnings, unless they waive the company's protection to use their own rental insurance.

Turo's protection plan covers hosts for up to $2 million in liability insurance provided by its insurance partner Economical, or ICBC in B.C.

How do I book a car?

To book a vehicle, customers choose a location and enter their travel date to browse thousands of cars shared by local hosts. They can also filter by price, which allows them to browse options from as little as $10 to $250 a day; they also don't have to wait for a host's approval to book a vehicle. 

A truly à la carte service, customers may use numerous filters, including filtering for vehicles with Apple CarPlay, bike racks, child seats, heated seats, pet-friendly, and more. 

After selecting a vehicle, they choose an insurance policy and greet their host. Many of the owners offer delivery to custom locations or popular points of interest such as airports, train stations, and hotels.

How are health measures enforced during the pandemic?

Owners must clean and disinfect cars' interiors, paying more attention to "all frequently touched 'hot spots' like door handles, center consoles, steering wheels, buttons and switches, and seat belts," according to Turo's website.

The company has strengthened its cleaning policy to ensure safety. They also have a couple of contactless options to maintain physical distance and peace of mind during check-in. However, if you must meet, the company encourages you to minimize contact during check-in and checkout.

Guests may cancel free of charge up until 24 hours before the trip starts, per Turo's flexible cancellation policy.

With files from The Associated Press and The Canadian Press.