Turo Go Dongle Enables “Airbnb For Vehicles”

It would take a particularly Zen kind of person to be comfortable with allowing strangers to use their car, but this type of “Airbnb” scenario is exactly what peer-to-peer car sharing company Turo is hoping to make a success of, similar to its competitor Zipcar. Turo recently introduced a small device, or dongle, that will allow users to locate and unlock cars right from the app. Called Turo Go, it will eliminate the need for vehicle owner and renter to meet and physically engage car keys. Prior to the introduction of the dongle, the Turo app required a minimum 60-minute lead time before a customer could pick up a vehicle.

Turo Go hardware will empower car owners to remotely lock and unlock their cars (the keyless entry technology is supplied by Continental), automatically track mileage and geolocate their vehicles. The goals, according to the car sharing company, are to make the experience of owning a car smarter, and the experience of sharing it safer. Turo is planning to use Turo Go’s connectivity applications to improve the customer experience both for Turo hosts and for drivers (or “guests” in the company’s lexicon) looking instant mobility.

“Inspired by our community and their calls for a remote access feature, we’re confident that Turo Go will help accelerate Turo’s mission of putting the world’s one billion cars to better use,” said Turo CEO Andre Haddad.

Turo Go is priced at $20 a month. The dongle connects to the OBD-II port inside newer vehicles with a hidden antenna that connects the device to the ignition. (It uses Bluetooth and doesn’t require a cellular signal.) In addition, the company charges vehicle owners a $150 installation fee. Once the Turo Go device is installed, users of the app will be able to locate the vehicle, book it on the spot and pay for it, and unlock or lock it via the app.

“We’re talking with a number of forward-thinking auto manufacturers, including Mercedes-Benz, about solutions to further integrate instant mobility into our service. We see a future where new, connected vehicles leave the manufacturing line ‘Turo-ready’,” said Haddad.

The company is launching Turo Go in Los Angeles, where it has the largest fleet and user base. Turo Go will expand to additional markets in 2019, according to Haddad.