A Calif. start-up puts a new spin on car-sharing

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Not everyone at the International Consumer Electronics Show is loaded with technology or wads of r&d cash. And not everyone has the keys to a Tesla roadster in their pocket.

Jessica Scorpio has the latter.

As one of three founders of Getaround.com, she's a 23-year-old entrepreneur with a mission. The small, Silicon Valley, Calif., startup wants to be the next Zipcar of the industry, with a bit less glitz.

Like Zipcar, Getaround is a peer-to-peer car sharing program with a twist.

Car owners put their vehicles up for rent on an hourly, daily or weekly basis. Getaround serves as the middleman, matching those “buyers” with “sellers” and providing the insurance protection for the vehicles and the setup capabilities – such as an iPhone app to unlock vehicles remotely -- to make the trades happen.

The business model: Getaround gets 30 percent of the rental rate, which varies between $4 and $25 per hour depending on the level of vehicle. Like eBay, the car owner sets the price.

One of Getaround's first customers was a Tesla customer. At the Consumer Electronics Show Thursday, in a lonely part of a sprawling Las Vegas parking lot, Getaround showed a Tesla as an example of what's possible in its rental world. The Tesla is $25 per hour; a Prius, for example, is $10 per hour.

Photo credit: Jason Stein

So how does the Tesla roadster come in?

One of Getaround's first customers was a Tesla customer. Thursday at the CES, in a lonely part of a sprawling Las Vegas parking lot, Getaround showed the Tesla as an example of what's possible in its rental world (the Tesla is $25 per hour; a Prius, for example is $10 per hour).

Getaround has about 1,000 users since launching last month and expects many more.

“The car-sharing world is about to blow up to 4.4 million users by 2016, and this is one solution,” said Scorpio. “We hope to be a part of that.”

Car-sharing is getting a lot more interesting.

You can reach Jason Stein at jstein@crain.com. -- Follow Jason on Twitter

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