Getaround App Lets Users Rent Cars From Strangers by the Hour

The Airbnb of cars gives drivers more freedom without taking up more road space, and now it's available in Seattle.

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Seattle residents can now download an app that allows them to rent cars by the hour. 

The Getaround app is an attempt to change traditional means of getting around, and Paul Erlandson, the general manager of Getaround in Seattle and Portland, Oregon, said to the Seattle Times that the service is meant for a trip of any length and where public transit isn't available or is hard to navigate.

Getaround supposedly differs from other car-sharing services because it does not add more cars to already-packed streets, driveways or other parking spots. Instead, the service has adopted a system in which participants use individually-owned cars that are not already being used. The Seattle Times used the example of a commuter who takes public transit and leaves his or her vehicle parked in a driveway for eight or 10 hours.

Getaround is meant to complement other modes of transportation. According to a study from the University of California, Davis, the use of services like Uber or Lyft attract passengers away from public transport, walking or bike riding.

Like Airbnb, Getaround relies on a high level of trust between renter and owner. Owners can activate an "enhanced security mode" within the app and Facebook is used to verify the identities of renters and owners. There is no way to use Getaround without using Facebook to sign up.

Cars are accessed by renters via a remote locking system within the app connecting to a device installed under the owner's steering wheel. The service only allows round-trip travel.

Renters pay an hourly fee for their car use with prices determined by an algorithm that takes year, make, model of the vehicle, and part of the town where the car is located into account.

According to Getaround's website, the company offers an insurance program that covers renters and vehicles that meet a set of eligibilty requirements. Coverage applies for the duration of each rental, from start to finish.

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