Contxto – Shared car rental startup Turbi from São Paulo could be on the fast-track to becoming the largest company of its kind in Latin America. What began as a 67-car fleet with 5,000 annual trips in 2017 will steadily grow to over 600 with 7,000 monthly trips by the end of 2019, according to Diego Lira, CEO and co-founder of Turbi.
“We decided to grow slowly and focus on the product,” he said to StartSe. “This way, we have stable technology that can handle the scale.”
Based on projected growth, Turbi foresees making revenues of US$34 million by the end of 2020 with 5,000 vehicles. So far, it has also raised R$5 million (approximately US$1.2 million), the most recent round being led by Domo Invest.
With another round allegedly in the works, the startup intends to leverage technology to meet rising demand. At the moment, it only operates in São Paulo.
Turbi car rentals
For the business model, Turbi employs a round trip format where users pick up available car units in a designated parking lot. In the end, they drop it off in the same location, paying an hourly rate according to the vehicle. On top of that, users must pay R$0.50 (US$0.12) for every kilometer driven.
Fuel is reportedly paid for by Turbi with a supply card available in the glove compartment.
As the Brazilian middle class emerges, more customers who travel but don’t have their own vehicles are using Turbi’s services on the weekends. Usage Monday through Friday is more sporadic since most users are reportedly self-employed.
“The average user is middle class and does the math to choose the most advantageous transportation,” said Lira, who founded the company with Daniel Prado after studying car-sharing logistics in Europe and the United States.
“They are already accustomed to using various mobility apps. But, contrary to what I originally thought, there is no age standard. We have customers of all age groups.”
Matter of fact, Lira chose the round-trip model to avoid “logistical nightmares” with one-way trips. That’s to say, when users pick up a car in one location and return it to another. More so, in comparison to the free-float system where units go anywhere in the designated vicinity, as is the case with e-scooters.
Car rental industry in Brazil
Regarding competition, Brazil has quite an extensive market for car rentals. According to Paulo Miguel Junior, the President of the Brazilian Association of Car Rental Companies, the sector will see major growth by the end of 2019.
Today, the industry already generates revenues of over US$3.6 billion while providing 82,000 direct jobs.
For Lira, he intends to leverage the latest technology to make the car rental process more efficient. At the same time, he intends to better serve customers through the platform. Over the app, clients can evaluate vehicles, not to mention driver etiquette.
“The user with no fines, leaves the tank at least half full and has no misuse reports gets more discount vouchers,” said Lira. “We know who crosses the line.”