First, a bit of background on the two services. Uber Carshare was previously Car Next Door, an independent company that started in Sydney in 2012. It was bought by Uber last year, and, in a company-first, the rebranded new offering, Uber Carshare, was launched in Australia before anywhere else in the world.
Turo, on the other hand, has been operating in the US since 2010, offering a similar service and also debuting in Australia last year. Like Uber Carshare, it requires the download of an app and a registering of a profile with your license.
I’ve tried both Uber Carshare and Turo first-hand (Uber Carshare a handful of times and Turo once), so I’m sharing my thoughts on how they differ here.
Each platform gives users access to rent all types of cars, so you can find one that’ll specifically suit your trip. On Turo’s marketplace, you’ll find more than 1,400 car makes and models, including electric, pet-friendly, convertibles, all-wheel drives, classic and high-end. Meanwhile, Uber Carshare offers access to over 9,000 cars Australian-wide and you can choose from a range of car models, utes and vans, to best suit your trip needs.
Cars on Turo can be valued up to $200,000 AUD, while those on Uber Carshare must be valued $50,000 or less if listed in Victoria, or $60,000 or less in other Australian states.
For Turo users, this means you can book a nice car for a special occasion, or even “try before you buy” — something Turo Australia’s Managing Director, Tim Rossanis says is becoming a trend with users test-driving one of Turo’s electric car fleet, which globally is 8% of its offering.
“This can help mitigate some fears around range anxiety and help you get familiar with public charging stations,” says Rossanis. “And we find it’s particularly helpful for getting people behind the wheel of a vehicle that’s been a bit difficult to access due to supply chain issues.”
With Turo, you can add extras to your car rental, like child seats, roof storage racks and even beach chairs and umbrellas, which will pop up as optional add-ons when you book. Uber Carshare also offers cars with child seats.
With both car-sharing marketplaces, the the car you book is the car you get, whereas with rental car companies, it’s often whatever car they have available in the category you chose.
Interaction With Host
Depending on your personality, this Turo feature might be a pro or con: in most cases, a user has to meet the owner of the car for a key handover and can chat with them about not just the car, but also the area. This is particularly useful if the user has booked the car rental in a location new to them, as the host can share recommendations and tips about the area.
However, Uber Carshare’s more anonymous car pick-up, which sees you getting the key usually from a lockbox near the car, might be more your preference — particularly if you’ve come off a long flight and might just be keen to get into the car and go. It really depends on what experience you’re after.
When I rented a car through Turo, at one point, I couldn’t figure out why the door wasn’t locking. I ended up video FaceTiming the host to have him look at what I was doing wrong. Turns out, I hadn’t turned the car off fully, so it wasn’t able to lock, which the host picked up on. If I hadn’t had the host’s number, I’m sure I would’ve figured it out eventually, but asking probably saved a lot of time.
“For guests, booking with a host is engaging with a real individual, someone with a shared passion, hobby or interest in the vehicles they offer,” says Rossanis. “That personal connection is important to us, as hosts can offer local recommendations and add a personal touch that’s different from other transportation options.”
Cars booked through Turo can also be delivered to you if you coordinate it with your host. I had mine delivered to the airport, where I was also able to drop it off when I was done. Uber Carshare doesn’t currently have cars available at any of the Australian major airports.
While both Uber Carshare and Turo both let additional drivers be covered on the car rental’s insurance without any extra charge, Uber Carshare’s process is much simpler.
Anyone with an Uber Carshare membership is covered during a valid booking — they don’t have to be added to it. With Turo, I had to send my fellow driver (my dad) a request to be added to the specific booking. He filled out his personal details, took a selfie and uploaded his driver’s license.
Turo bookings also state that only the person who made the initial booking (me) is allowed to accept the keys. My dad had landed at the airport earlier, so wasn’t technically allowed to accept the keys, but I was able to message the host and get permission.
Probably one of the biggest differences between car-sharing services and car rental companies is cleanliness. With a car-sharing service, in my experience, the car you’re getting into it is almost never freshly cleaned. It’s never been dirty — it’s just clearly had someone or several people use it a few times after the interiors were vacuumed.
On the flip side, this means you can’t accumulate too many crumbs yourself in a car-sharing car, as you need to return it in the same condition you borrowed it in. If you’re renting a car for a week and have people sitting in the back, you’re likely going to track in some dirt, and while with a car rental service, that’d be fine, with car-sharing, you might risk getting a fine.