Airbnb-style app launched to trigger car sharing in Scotland

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A firm hopes to trigger a car-sharing revolution in Scotland – improving access to vehicles and make ownership less attractive.

Turo, which launches north of the Border today, is the biggest app in Britain pairing car owners with drivers seeking short-term rentals.

Turo, which launches north of the Border today, is the biggest app in Britain pairing car owners with drivers seeking short-term rentals. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Turo, which launches north of the Border today, is the biggest app in Britain pairing car owners with drivers seeking short-term rentals. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Likened to Airbnb, it hopes to increase the 150 cars on offer in Scotland to 2,000 within two years.

Turo, founded in San Francisco in 2009, has signed up 4,000 owners, most in London, since its UK launch last September.

Unlike car-sharing clubs like Enterprise, which owns its own vehicles, peer-to-peer operators such as Turo enable drivers to make money by “sharing” their vehicles with strangers.

Turo takes a 25 per cent cut. Others include Hiyacar and Drivy, but they have far fewer cars available in Scotland. Turo said owners earned an average of £130 per trip, with five of these a month enough to cover their vehicle repayments, vehicle excise duty and insurance – saving them cash to spend on any upkeep costs.

UK director Xavier Collins said the app enabled drivers to choose the exact model they wanted rather than face a lottery at car rental firms.

He said it also made it easy for people to try out different types of cars, including electric vehicles.

He said: “In the US, it has reduced car ownership by encouraging better utilisation of vehicles.”

However, some motoring groups expressed scepticism.

Neil Greig, the Scotland-based policy and research director of IAM Roadsmart, said: “Loaning out your car seems to make perfect sense when it’s just spending most of its life parked. However, it remains to be seen if there is enough trust between Scottish drivers for apps like Turo to really work.

“Would you let someone drive your pride and joy when you have never met them before?

“I am sure the taxman will also be watching developments with interest if people start to make a business out of it.”

But Phil Gomm of the RAC Foundation was more positive: “Cars, on average, sit idle for 96 per cent of the time, gathering dust and rust. Given how much money owners spend on their vehicles, any practical and safe way there is to unlock some value must be attractive to all parties.”