Uber has hit the brakes on a rental-car program for riders.
Back in April, Uber announced Uber Rent, a program to let Uber riders rent a car from within the Uber app. The program was a partnership between Uber and Getaround, a startup that lets users find and instantly book vehicles from private car owners. Uber made Uber Rent available to some users in San Francisco beginning in May.
The rental-car program was part of chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi’s push to expand Uber’s portfolio beyond its signature on-demand rides and further the company’s stated goal of reducing car ownership. This year, Uber also bought dockless electric bikes startup Jump Bikes, partnered with electric scooter provider Lime, and invested heavily in its food delivery service, UberEats.
Uber is still betting big on e-bikes, scooters, and Eats. But Uber-for-rental-cars didn’t pan out. On Nov. 19, Uber emailed Uber Rent users in San Francisco to let them know the program would no longer be available as of Nov. 20.
“We know you’ve relied on Uber Rent powered by Getaround, and apologize for the inconvenience this may cause you,” Uber wrote in the email, a copy of which was viewed by Quartz.
The company said it would honor outstanding rental arrangements, and offered a coupon for $30 off a rental booked through the Getaround app before the end of the year. Uber told Quartz that Uber Rent was available to hundreds of thousands of users as of November.
Kaitlin Durkosh, a company spokeswoman, said in an email that Uber stopped operating the program to “think through the best way to offer Uber customers access to rentals in the Uber app.” Durkosh said Uber isn’t ruling out offering car rentals again in the future, but didn’t provide a timeline for when such a relaunch might occur.
The company backed away from Uber Rent a few weeks after Lime, the scooter company Uber partners with, said it would test a car-rental service in Seattle (paywall) in the coming months. Lime’s service will reportedly compete with Car2go, a Daimler-owned service that offers hourly rentals of street-parked cars in more than two dozen cities in the US, Europe, and China.
Uber will continue to operate a program with Getaround that lets Uber drivers rent cars for $5 an hour. That program started in April 2017 and is available in San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, and San Diego. Getaround spokeswoman Jacqueline Tanzella said the driver program will expand to two East Coast cities this month.
Getaround and competitor Turo have had more success with the Uber-for-rental-cars model. Both companies offer short-term rentals of privately owned vehicles, at prices that are often cheaper than those of traditional rental-car companies.