Maui residents with vehicles listed under Turo are struggling to get the same attention they had over the summer, even with the state’s largest vacation rental offering.
“The problem was getting other cars at the time at a fair value,” said Adam Sachs, 57, a Turo fleet co-operator and serial entrepreneur in Maui.
Turo’s boom came during a rental car shortage in Hawaii, when rentals were down more than 40% since the pandemic began, while demand for rental cars also soared.
Consequently, Turo had its longest period of growth in Maui in May, June and July.
Many jumped at the chance when the summer craze kicked in, leaving over 200 vehicles still available for rent on Turo on Valley Island.
A Turo operator who requested anonymity said he listed a used SUV he bought in July, but lately his listing hasn’t performed well.
“High prices have really come down and the market is really saturated now,” she said.
Sachs said he recognized the opportunity to fill a void in the market after Governor Ige lifted the mandatory quarantine protocol, but has since reduced the size of his fleet as prices have fallen.
He recalled embracing the idea after his significant other put his Toyota on the app in May, saying it “would work if it meant the $100 to $125 a day.”
Since summer is over, reports have surfaced on Maui revealing uncertainty about Turo’s future and halving returns.
“If you asked me if you would go into the business blindly today, I’d say ‘no’ and I’d also say if you only have an hour or two, ‘it’s probably not worth it. do,'” Sachs said. “If you can come in and get six cars that were newer cars that our agencies didn’t have, you could potentially make a few bucks, but you’re not going to get rich.”
Some former Maui Turo operators have even started listing their cars online, leaving behind what was once a viable business idea.
“In July, we were able to rent a small SUV for $125 a day. Right now, we’re lucky if we can get $60 a day — that same vehicle,” Sachs said. “It’s just not worth it.”
Turo’s anonymous operator echoed Sachs’ claim, saying she can’t stand dropping her price to $60 just to skate, so instead she’s treating the car as her own.
“If I didn’t think I would use it as my personal car or would be upset if I got stuck with it, I personally wouldn’t have bought it,” she said.
Sachs initially rented a fleet of six vehicles for Turo, although he knew success would be short-lived once car rentals replenished.
Sachs currently has a “small fleet” of niche vehicles listed on Turo.
“[It] can be a real challenge. You could be sitting with the car for a week or two without it shutting down, and you still know that if you finance those cars, you have payments to make,” he said.
Sachs acknowledged that while Turo won’t replace rental cars, it will give those who want the “experience” of riding in a nice car on Maui.
Like Turo index of the best vehicles suggests, the ROI for cars in the 30K – 50K price range should be higher than for more expensive vehicles. It is a rather small mold to fit affordable and niche at the same time.
The bright side
Sachs and other Turo operators predict there could still be green pastures for Turo operators on Maui, but not until some changes.
One issue was airport access for pickups and drop-offs.
“We are cracking down harder on illegal rental cars and Turo cars,” said Maui Airports District Manager Marvin Moniz.
As Kahului Airport (OGG) prohibits commercial vehicles from parking in their parking lots, a disconnect between the rule and enforcement and dissemination of the rule has caused tension.
“I mean, where aren’t you supposed to park?” replied a Turo operator who asked to remain anonymous. “There are no signs.”
Many Turo operators are still finding ways to park at the airport even though the rule is in place, and many strongly disagree with the rule.
“It’s just not fair that independent operators have a hard time competing against each other, but this…this is the real world, and I can adapt to the real world. Just when you say I can’t park at the airport. That’s a problem,” Sachs said.
Uber drivers had similar bans because they presented themselves as direct competition to the taxi industry, but Uber’s legal team worked closely with airport authorities to allow customers to book rides. rides at more than 600 airports, according to its website. Uber said rides to and from airports accounted for 12% of its gross bookings in the third quarter of 2021.
As operators of Turo and other car-sharing platforms navigate Maui’s evolving market, many are also concerned that their local governments are siding with the big car rental companies instead of putting the money in the pockets. pockets of local residents.