Car rental platform Turo brings Tesla-lovers together

Turo is often described as the Airbnb of car rental – it’s a peer-to-peer platform with thousands of members all over the US and a few other countries. For renters, Turo offers a far better selection of vehicles, better prices and, often, more convenience than traditional rental agencies. For vehicle owners, it offers a way to generate some revenue from their cars when they aren’t using them.

Turo is of particular interest for EV enthusiasts, especially for Teslaphiles. At the moment, the major rental agencies offer Teslas in Norway and a few California cities, usually at sky-high prices. On Turo, you can rent a Model S or X in many cities, at a reasonable price.

For car owners like Tampa resident Mark Willard, Turo can provide a way to buy the vehicle they really want. A couple of years ago, instead of playing it safe and buying a used Model S, Willard took the plunge and bought a loaded Model X. He’s been renting it out on Turo an average of five or six days per month, bringing in enough income to cover a big chunk of his car payment.

Willard told Charged that about half of his customers are renting in order to take a Tesla for an extended test drive, and about half are “ordinary” renters looking for something to drive while visiting the area (a substantial number rent the Model X for weddings, he says).

Only once has Mr. Willard ever had a problem – someone got too friendly with a curb and caused substantial tire damage – and Turo’s insurance policy paid up as advertised.

Interestingly, Mark said he feels more comfortable renting out an EV than he would a legacy vehicle, because there’s less maintenance and fewer things to go wrong. Every mile driven on a gas burner brings it closer to the next oil change and, at least with performance cars, hot-dogging drivers can burn up the clutch or the brake pads. With the Model X, Willard is confident they can put pedal to metal as much as they want without hurting anything.


  • jstack6

    we have a Tesla rental company right in the greater Phoenix area now. just started up here and will have model 3 vehicles soon.

  • Zephyr

    I live in northern AL and I listed my 2012 P85 on Turo for a while. I had a wildly different experience than MW here, and the worst parts stem directly from it being an EV. It was so bad that I’ve pulled the car offline and will probably never list it again.
    Every time it was booked, I contacted them ahead of time to allow for a tutorial drive, a discussion of their plans, and to impress upon them that they should contact me to help with any issues. The first customer was great! We did the tutorial, he took his day trip, and came back with charge to spare.
    #2 – came to get the car along with two teenage kids. I’m pretty sure from the plug and unplug notifications I got, and the mileage tracking, that they took the car joyriding for around 50 miles between 3 and 4 am. The family left on their road trip with far less charge than they should have, drove at excessive speed, clearly ignored the range warnings they would have been receiving, and almost didn’t make it to the Chattanooga SuperCharger. They had to stop and charge on some random L1 outlet for a while (they were mad about this later). Then they charged for a while, drove toward Atlanta and stopped somewhere before retracing their route. They later claimed they didn’t make it to their event in the car and had to leave it. Driving back, they almost ran out again, and then tried to extort me for a credit for their inconvenience.
    #3 – tech smart guy, we talked all about SuperCharger network and L2 options, said he’d never go below 50% charge. Drove fast to Nashville, skipped the SuperCharger, went out into the burbs on a low charge and plugged in at a friend’s house on a bad L1 that kept shutting off. Repeatedly left the house with less and less charge (and L2 all around him) until plugging in below “0” and apparently rigging up some kind of L2 source at the same house, got up to 30mi or so. Left the house taking a roundabout route to the SC, driving fast, burning charge, got lost, drove right past SC twice, going at least 15 miles below “0”, and finally found it late at night and took a cab to a hotel. Left the car with the windows open because they wouldn’t shut for some reason (thank god nothing happened, and idle fees weren’t in effect yet). Didn’t answer attempts to contact him till after finding the charger. Came back the next day and drove it all over town, getting dangerously low on charge again. I can’t tell you how relieved I was when he made it back to my house. At least he paid the extra mileage fees.
    While I agree that a modern EV is less likely to have powertrain issues, this kind of experience has really soured me on putting it in the hands of anyone who doesn’t have their own (which is unlikely to be the case with a Turo customer). I would have to have a much more robust liability protection in place than what Turo offers, since bricking a Tesla battery isn’t a collision and would probably be my $40,000 problem. Not worth it for the measly $130 a day I was getting in my market.

    • Michael Walsh

      Wow what bunch of pathetic sorry renters!! Can’t believe haw dumb people are- and not respectful of how cool Turo can be. Indeed quite similar to Airbnb– wonder why the goofballs are coming out of the woodwork…

  • John Adkison

    I had bad luck with renting my vehicles out via RelayRides (old name before change to Turo). My truck was in an accident and the compensation did not match what I expected. First of all, the rental car limit is like only $30/day. Second of all, they don’t cover for the diminished market value of your vehicle (even if your car is repaired perfectly, it’s still worth less than it was before the accident according to blue book values).