While companies like Zipcar and Hertz's Connect have made the rental-car process more convenient, a new startup -- Getaround -- aims to avoid the middleman altogether and let car owners loan out their personal vehicles to strangers. Owners pick their hourly rental rates and schedules through this peer-to-peer system — while Getaround installs a free carkit, that includes a GPS tracker and key mechanism.
Once approved, renters can pick up the car from the owner and unlock it using an iPhone app. Berkshire Hathaway will provide insurance for all cars under the system and 24-hour roadside assistance comes with the rental fee.
Considering the point to entry is incredibly low -- Getaround has the potential to catch on across the country very quickly, especially since it makes car-sharing viable in rural areas as well.
Getaround, of course, isn't the only company getting into peer-to-peer car sharing. RelayRides, which has investments from Google Ventures, is working towards the same goal. Though Getaround just won a $50,000 grand prize at TechCrunch Disrupt last week.
Clearly there are issues that need to be ironed out -- for instance what happens if a renter gets a ticket and doesn't pay it, or returns the car filthy (but not damaged enough for insurance to cover it). While Getaround says the renter will be responsible for all of it - we do see insurance problems coming up in the future.
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com