Is renting my car on Turo profitable?

With moving to San Francisco and the increase of living cost in recent years, owning a car is incredibly expensive. Actually transportation is now the third largest monthly expenses for me. With that in mind, I started to look into offsetting those expenses with renting out my car on Turo. I’d rather not to sell my car if I don’t really have to because I’m a super fan of sports cars and car ownership. So I spent some time doing research about hosting on Turo and read a few inspiring posts on sharingeconomysecrets.com. After that I did some similar calculations of potential income, expenses and profits for my car in the San Francisco market. In this post I’ll document the analysis and how I made the decision to actually sell my car.

The car that I’m looking to list on Turo is a 2014 Cayenne S.

Market

First, I started with looking at the market – how many Cayennes are listed on Turo in San Francisco, how often they are rented out and for what price. It turns out there are not that many of them. The total number is about a dozen. More than half of them have not been booked yet. Only 4ish have received somewhere between 10-80 ratings (or bookings). The top 3 Cayennes have been rented since mid-2018 or Jan 2019. On average, each had 5, 3.6 and 2.8 bookings per month, although each booking can be multiple days. Assuming the bookings are mostly for small number of days, it doesn’t look like the utilization rate is terribly high even for the top 3 cars. My conclusion from this is that there is not a huge market for Cayennes (or maybe luxury SUVs in general).

Price

Excluding outliers and prices before weekly/monthly discounts, the prices range from $80 to $150.

Income

Assuming the car is rented out for 16 days every month with a price of $100, $120 or $150 and Turo takes 30% of that, the monthly income would be $1120, $1344, $1680 respectively.

Expenses

Assuming the daily maximum miles is 200, it will put roughly 40k miles maximum on the Cayenne. The depreciation of 40k more miles based on KBB is around $4,000 without accounting for the tear and wear. A conservative estimation of 1-year maintenance cost is $5,000 including scheduled maintenance, tires and etc. The actual maintenance and repair costs may be much more than that due to expensive parts and labor for a Porsche and unexpected problems. Below is a breakdown of monthly cost, which adds up to $1,279.

Parking $                 325
Gas $                   60
Insurance $                 100
Registration $                   44
Monthly depreciation $                 333
Monthly maintainance cost $                 417
Total monthly cost $              1,279

Profit

A daily price of $150 is definitely at the high end of the market. I’d use a more moderate price of $120 for calculating the profit. With that, the monthly income ($1,344) is just slightly more than the monthly expenses ($1,279). The margin is $65. If I’m able to rent it out for more number of days or with a high price, I’d get a higher margin.

One thing that stands out in the bottom line is the monthly parking of $325. If that can be somehow eliminated, there will be suddenly a decent margin. Unfortunately, in San Francisco currently, parking is expensive unless the car is parked in a suburb nearby. For example, serving SFO customers from San Bruno.

Use the monthly expenses of $1,279 as the bottom line, I can calculate the minimum price based on number of days rented out (see below). The higher the utilization rate, the lower the price and the car can be more competitive in the market. Note that this does not take into account the additional miles and depreciation.

Number of days and minimum price
 15     $122 
 16     $114 
 17     $107 
 18     $101 
 19     $96 
 20     $91 
 21     $87 
 22     $83 
 23     $79 
 24     $76 
 25     $73 

Conclusion

Upside

  • I can continue to own the Cayenne
  • If the utilization rate is 50%, I can use it for the rest of the days although I have to be really flexible with when to use it
  • If the utilization is much more than 50%, it may be able to generate a few hundred dollars cash flow every month

Downside

  • There is little margin with 50% utilization rate
  • If I somehow am able to rent it out for more days, it will increase the depreciation, tear and wear and also my time used, which will reduce the margin
  • With the analysis of the market above, it may be challenging to even maintain a utilization rate of 50% or more constantly
  • There is risk of a big repair bill due to powertrain problems and etc, which would result in a loss for me
  • There is also risk of a crash/total and trouble with Turo and personal insurances
  • Time and stress while communicating with customers and dealing with problems and accidents
  • Tax. Every penny earned through Turo will be taxed with Self-employment (FICA), federal and state taxes, although many expenses can be deducted

To conclude, there is little upside to list the car on Turo with the hope to have some positive cashflow while still keeping the car for some of my own usage. It may be different for another type of car or just doing it a pure business. If one’s goal is to generate positive cash flow and is willing to spend the time on it, it may be doable with pushing for maximum utilization rate. But the analysis here showed that it does not work for my case.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s