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Uber is Launching a Car Rental Service Right From its App

Uber is Launching a Car Rental Service Right From its App

Author: Eric Walz   

SAN FRANCISCO — With Uber's self-driving car plans stalled after a fatal accident in Arizona, the company continues to look for new ways to integrate its mobility services under the leadership of its new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who was brought in to salvage Uber's tarnished image.

Just days after announcing the purchase of bike-sharing startup JUMP that allows people to rent a bike directly through the Uber app, Uber today announced that is is partnering with San Francisco-based Getaround, to rent cars from the Uber app.

Called ‘Uber Rent' the company said it is launching the new service later this month in San Francisco. San Francisco-based Getaround lets users find and instantly book vehicles from private car owners, all through a mobile app. The new Uber Rent platform, which is scheduled to launch later this month in San Francisco, will make cars from Getaround's network available to users of the Uber app.

Getaround's vehicle offerings will appear in a side menu in the Uber app. Users will be able to find and unlock an available car from their phones using wireless technology. Getaround currently operates in ten U.S. cities, including San Francisco, Chicago, Washington DC, Boston, and Los Angeles. The company was founded in 2009 and has raised $88 million from investors including Toyota.

Getaround views its car rentals as complementing Uber and Lyft's on-demand rides and helping to move Americans away from private car ownership. Getaround competes with other car-sharing platforms, such as San Francisco-based Turo and Daimler subsidiary Car2Go.

"Most of a person's transportation needs can be met by coupling ridesharing for quick trips with carsharing for trips with multiple stops or longer getaways," Getaround co-founder and CEO Sam Zaid said in a press release. "It's the perfect combination for people who have chosen to live car-free."

The deal comes as Uber expands to become a transportation service, rather than just a on- demand taxi service. The company is looking to seamlessly connect ride-hailing, bike-sharing, mass-transit options, and now car rentals.

Uber has been blamed for increasing traffic and gridlock as thousands of Uber drivers enter city centers each day looking for riders. Last June, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera released information for the first time about the number of Uber and Lyft drivers estimated that 45,000 are working in the city. For comparison, just 1,500 taxi medallions were given out in San Francisco in 2016, according to the city's Treasurer & Tax Collector. The traffic problems are a concern in New York as well.

Bruce Schaller, an urban transportation expert, said there are about 55,000 Uber, Lyft and other ride-sharing drivers in New York City, a metropolis of 8 million people, eight times bigger than San Francisco.

Schaller says this "unsustainable" ride-sharing pattern is occurring in many major cities including Los Angeles and Boston. "If this goes on, you'll simply have gridlock. You'll be able to get an Uber. But then you won't be able to get anywhere." he said in an interview last year with Oakland, CA news station KTVU.

Uber has also been blamed for steering people away from mass transit and into Uber operated vehicles, further increasing traffic woes. However, as Uber looks to expands its transportation options it may lure some riders back to mass-transit.

In addition to today's rental car deal with Getaround, Uber announced a partnership with London-based Masabi, a mobile ticketing company that Uber said will help customers book and use public transit tickets directly within the Uber app.

Eric Walz
Eric Walz
Originally from New Jersey, Eric is an automotive and technology reporter specializing in the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley. Eric has over fifteen years of automotive experience and a B.A. in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the automotive industry and beyond. He has worked on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology. Outside of work, Eric likes to travel to new places, play guitar, and explore the outdoors.
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