A Hawaii lawmaker is introducing a bill that would ban peer-to-peer car rental apps in the state, citing concerns about the industry’s lack of regulation.
Car share programs, such as Turo and Getaround, operate in a similar way as Airbnb, with hosts renting out their cars directly to other people.
As was the case in the early days of Airbnb, the car sharing industry has operated without regulation in many ways, most significantly in regards to fees and taxes that the traditional rental car industry is subjected to within destinations.
“When people go to Enterprise or Hertz, and they rent a car, they’re paying a rental car surcharge and all those sorts of fees that we then use as tax dollars to improve our infrastructure,” State Rep. Sean Quinlan said. “When they go to Turo, we’re simply not getting that.”
In addition to avoiding certain taxes and surcharges – which obviously displeases the traditional rental car industry – critics say that peer-to-peer car sharing puts more affordable cars on the road, contributing to overtourism and a reduction of spending within the destination.
“The conversation we’ve been having over the last two years is that… we don’t want to do high volume, low spending tourism,” said Quinlan. “And unfortunately, Turo does make it cheaper to vacation in Hawaii.”
Proponents of the peer-to-peer industry say it provides residents supplemental income to help tackle the high costs of living in Hawaii, and that it gives visitors more options.
During the pandemic, peer-to-peer car sharing grew in popularity in Hawaii and around the country due to a severe rental car shortage that left many travelers out of luck at traditional rental car establishments. (We tried Turo ourselves, but had a bad experience).
Quinlan acknowledged that he didn’t think the bill would pass, but said he sees it as an opportunity to start the discussion surrounding peer-to-peer rentals and its impacts on tourism.
Over the past few years, other states, such as Colorado, have started to work out regulatory agreements with the car sharing industry. It appears Hawaii will now begin that process as well.