At the beginning of this year, the city of San Francisco had begun the process of suing the tech start up Turo. Turo is an app that allows people car share, in essence for car owners to rent out their personal vehicles. The city had alleged Turo failed to pay the fees required to operate legally at the SFO airport, while Turo claims it shouldn't be subjected to the same regulations as legacy rental car companies since they are not a car rental company. The tech company responded by counter-suing the city.
The of city San Francisco claims Turo is flouting rules that are in place to keep people safe and maintain a level playing field. Turo has countered that the city is carrying water for established car rental companies like Enterprise and Hertz. The animosity between traditional car rental companies and mobility services trying to disrupt the business model is nothing new. Mobility services in a few shorts years has already crippled the taxi market. Turo, much like Uber, has claimed that it's a technology platform that helps car owners earn extra money by "sharing" their vehicles with other people. Since then Uber has conceded their stance as just a neutral software provider while Turo still wears that distinction.
Turo claims to have over 4 million users in more than 5000 cities in North America and Europe. The company, which was formerly known as RelayRides, has raised money from auto manufacturing giants Daimler AG and is currently valued at $700 million. The company takes a 25 percent cut of each transaction. They also allow the users and owners to meet and exchange keys. Often those meetings take place at airports which was the spark for this latest legal battle. Michelle Fang, general counsel for Turo, "Turo and our community is being perceived as a major threat to the dominant market power they have for rental cars." City officials have claimed that Turo wants special treatment that it hasn't earned. "Turo executives seem to think the rules don't apply to them," City Attorney Dennis Herrera said in a statement.