Until now, there hasn't really been a shake-up of the UK car rental market in the way that other markets have seen. Most noticeably, Airbnb have revolutionised the housing market and made home-ownership, and subsequently the hotel game, a completely different place.
Last week I had the opportunity to meet with Turo, a San Francisco-created car sharing platform who have recently landed in the UK, at a gathering in their London office and I soon became super-excited at what they're setting out to achieve.
Imagine the scenario, you've just booked flights to London (or anywhere for that matter) for a long weekend and you want to check out Oxford whilst you're in the region. You've booked a place to stay on Airbnb and Tom, the property owner, lives on a road of townhouses in North London. You have two options, spend 90 minutes travelling out to Heathrow where the majority of London's car rental services are based, only to travel back in towards North London for 45 mins, or alternatively, pay a vast sum of money to have the hire car delivered to Tom's house.
Meanwhile Louise, who lives around the corner from Tom, is looking out of her bedroom window wondering whether it's really worth owning a car at all. Given how good public transport is in London and seeing that road tax and on-street parking is once again on the rise, is it really cost-effective to own a car solely for the monthly trip to her parents in Bournemouth and the odd Ikea run?
Now let's say that it's 2017 (of which of course it is) and rather than having to make the arduous pilgrimage out to Heathrow to play "Car Make, Model and Size Roulette" you can rent Louise's red Audi A3 directly from her, knowing that all of the insurance and payment is handled already and that you only need walk two minutes from Tom's Airbnb property. Louise is now clawing back a good proportion of her annual road tax investment from a car that would otherwise have sat waiting for its next Swedish furniture outing, whilst you're able to travel hassle-free to Oxford.
Turo is able to make the above completely possible. Owners upload their vehicles onto the Turo platform, listing specific details and photos so that hirers know exactly what they're getting, before allowing users to search through the cars available; filtering by price, date, location, car-type and even vehicle colour. Assuming that you've created a Turo account, all you need to do is click "Rent this car", check that the details are correct and that you know the collection point and away you go!
Turo really recognise that travelling and driving aren't just about the destination but that the journey can be equally as important. It's definitely got me thinking about how future car ownership might change when we live in a demand and supply-balanced world. Perhaps buying that Porsche 718 Cayman is now possible through off-setting the monthly payments with weekday rentals?
Who knows? One day soon we could use Turo to drive cars in the same way that we use Uber to be driven.