While peer-to-peer car (P2P) marketplaces can match borrowers with car owners, they sometimes come with a potential downside: Car owners often have to give their borrowers the keys to their vehicles in person. However, sometimes car owners on platforms such as Turo have devised their own solution. Why exchange keys in person at all? As a result, some car owners — such as Tesla owners — can allow their cars to be locked and unlocked through mobile apps. In fact, 15 percent of the cars on its platform already offer remote access. Some platforms even require that owners use remote lock and unlock features, but not all marketplaces follow this policy or plan to do so.
Car owners using Turo’s service, for example, will not have to use the feature to use the app going forward. Turo made the decision because some car owners would like to meet the borrower in person. Owners of ultra-luxury cars might want to walk a borrower through their vehicle and make sure they feel comfortable driving it. But, for car owners who do choose to use the device, they will be able to have it installed across different makes and models of cars.
How It Works
With Turo’s upcoming remote access device, car owners will be able to ditch the traditional key swap and put spare keys in the glove box instead. They can then use the device to lock and unlock the car. Such a system provides several benefits to car owners: They can track mileage on their vehicles, for instance. Turo plans to roll out that functionality because some car owners want to put a mileage cap on their vehicles when the lend them out, particularly if they have a specialty car that they don’t want to be driven all that much. (Turo car owners can put a mileage cap on rentals by the day or week and charge extra for drivers that go over that cap.) Additionally, the device allows car owners to geolocate their car.
According to Christin Di Scipio, Senior Communications Coordinator with Turo, that gives car owners peace of mind as they can feel comfortable knowing the locations of their vehicles.
Currently, some P2P car-sharing marketplaces are seeing interest in remote unlocking functions that are yet to be released in the future. Turo, for example, has a wait list for its future device — and it’s scheduled to be released in select cities the fall. The company thinks it may be popular in big cities in the beginning but “we think that it can work across the board,” Di Scipio said.
Going forward, P2P car-sharing marketplaces might team up with car manufactures to install remote unlocking devices right on the assembly line. Turo is in talks with a few original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to see how they could implement the device into cars coming off the line. (The only one Di Scipio could name is Mercedes-Benz as its parent company Daimler is one of Turo’s investors.) In the future, Turo is looking to possibly add more features to the device down the road.
“We’re really keeping our eyes open and trying to think about all the possibilities of where this could lead,” Di Scipio said.
Some OEMs are already rolling out voice commands. Hyundai, for example, has a Blue Link system that allows drivers to remotely lock and unlock vehicles. In addition, it was previously reported that BMW users will be able to access an app that will allow them to execute remote commands to complete tasks such as locking car doors.
Will car manufacturers link their connected car features with car-sharing services like Turo? Time will tell, but OEMSs that invest with P2P car-sharing marketplaces appear to have a head start.