Maui Turo owners pivot to keep pace with growing rental car supply

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Maui Consolidated Car Rental Facility at Kahului Airport.
PC: Maui Now file.

Maui residents with vehicles listed under Turo struggle to get the same attention they got over the summer, even with the state’s largest vacation rental offer.

“The problem was getting other cars at fair value back then,” said Adam Sachs, 57, a Turo fleet cooperator and serial entrepreneur in Maui.

Turo’s boom came during a shortage of rental cars in Hawaii, when rentals have fallen by more than 40% since the start of the pandemic while demand for rental cars has also skyrocketed.

As a result, Turo experienced its greatest growing season in Maui in May, June, and July.

Many jumped at the chance when the summer craze kicked in, which has now left over 200 vehicles still for hire on Turo on Valley Island.

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A Turo operator who requested anonymity said she had listed a used SUV she bought in July, but lately her list has not worked.

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“The high prices have really come down and the market is really saturated now,” she said.

Sachs said he recognizes the opportunity to fill an empty space in the market after Governor Ige lifted the mandatory quarantine protocol, but has since reduced the size of his fleet due to falling prices.

He recalled embracing the idea after his loved one put his Toyota on the app in May, saying it “would work if that meant the $ 100 to $ 125 a day.”

Turning

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Since the end of summer, reports have surfaced on Maui, revealing uncertainty over Turo’s future and returns halved.

“If you asked me if you are going into the business blindly today, I would say ‘No’, and I would also say if you only have an hour or two, ‘it is probably not worth it. worth doing, “” Sachs said. “If you can go in and get six cars that were newer cars that our agencies didn’t have, you could potentially make a few bucks, but you won’t get rich.”

Some former Turo operators in Maui 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 per day. Right now we’re lucky if we can get $ 60 a day – that same vehicle, ”Sachs said. “It just isn’t worth it. “

Turo’s anonymous operator echoed Sachs’ claim, saying she couldn’t bear to drop the price to $ 60 just to skate, so instead, she sees the car as her own.

“If I didn’t think I would use it as a personal car or be miserable if I got stuck with it, I personally wouldn’t have bought it,” she said.

Sachs initially leased a fleet of six vehicles for Turo, although he knew success would be short-lived once car rentals were replenished.

Sachs currently has a “small fleet” of niche vehicles listed on Turo.

“[It] can be a real challenge. You can sit with the car for a week or two without it turning off, and you always know that if you fund these cars, you have payments to make, ”he said.

Sachs acknowledged that while Turo won’t replace rental cars, it will provide those who want the “experience” of riding in a beautiful car on Maui.

As Turo’s Best Vehicle Index suggests, the ROI for cars in the 30K – 50K price range is expected to be higher than more expensive vehicles. It’s a rather small mold to fit both affordable and niche.

The bright side

Sachs and other Turo operators predict that there may still be some green pasture ahead for Turo operators in Maui, but not before some changes.

One problem was access to the airport for pick-ups and drop-offs.

“We are separating illegal rental cars and Turo cars more harshly,” said Marvin Moniz, district manager of Maui Airports.

As Kahului Airport (OGG) restricts the parking of commercial vehicles on their grounds, a disconnect between the rule and the rule’s enforcement and dissemination has created tensions.

“I mean, where aren’t you supposed to park?” Replied a Turo operator who asked to remain anonymous. “There is no sign.”

Many Turo operators still find ways to park at the airport even though the rule is in place, and many strongly disagree with the rule.

“It’s not just that independent operators have a hard time competing, but it’s… it’s the real world, and I can take care of the real world. Just when you say I can’t park at the airport. It’s a problem, ”Sachs said.

Uber drivers had similar bans because they represented direct competition with the taxi industry, but Uber’s legal team worked closely with airport authorities to allow customers to book rides in more than 600 airports, according to its website. Uber said travel to and from airports accounted for 12% of its gross bookings in the third quarter of 2021.

As the operators of Turo and other carsharing platforms navigate the evolving Maui market, many are also concerned that their local governments will side with the major rental car companies instead of putting the money in. in the pockets of local residents.

Maui Airports District Manager, Marvin Moniz at Maui ConRAC and Electric Train at Kahului Airport. PC: Maui Now file.
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