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Getaround car-sharing service ready for formal Portland launch

San Francisco company has tested its concept in the Rose City for months
by: Christopher Onstott Jessica Roberts walks to her neighbor's car that she borrows by the hour using Getaround, a person-to-person car rental program that tested in Portland for several months.

Getaround, the San Francisco 'peer-to-peer car-sharing service,' will launch a full-fledged operation in Portland by February, thanks in part to $1.7 million in funding from the Federal Highway Administration.

Getaround is a virtual matchmaking service for people who'd like to rent cars for short periods of time and people who would like to make a little extra money from their cars sitting unused in their driveways.

It's similar to Zipcar, except the cars are provided by peers. Car insurance is included in the rental price.

Some car owners make their cars available for as low as $3 an hour. Some have made $200 a month or more by offering their car in the service.

As reported in the Nov. 3 Portland Tribune, Getaround has been testing the service in Portland for several months. The formal launch means people can sign up for the service on its website.

Getaround is one of a handful of startup companies that are trying to make peer-to-peer car-sharing a profitable business. It has been operating in San Francisco and San Diego, and is expanding into Portland.

Portland is considered a ripe market because of its environmental ethic, large population of 20-somethings who don't own cars and prefer alternate transportation, and its distinction as the birthplace of car-sharing.

Also, it helps that the predecessor to Zipcar, called Car Sharing Portland, was founded here in 1998 by Portlander Dave Brook.

As part of the government initiative, Getaround will work closely with the Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium to study the dynamics of peer-to-peer car-sharing, making Portland a test bed for the concept before it goes nationwide.