So, you want to buy a Tesla Model S but you’re not sure if you have enough money for the full price or even a lease, don’t worry! There’s a service for that if you live in Los Angeles, at least.
Borrow service is one of a few subscription and short-term rental models available today but it’s only for exclusively electric ones where the terms are as short as three months.
The startup of seventeen months lets you have your EV experience by loaning you a home charging station for the duration of your three- to nine-month term and by issuing monthly charging credits for ChargePoint and EVGo stations.
Borrow offers all kinds of different used cars, they range from a college student’s Campus plan to a luxury shopper’s Premier level. Within tiers, the prices differ based on how long the term is. The longer commitment – the lower the payment.
The college student-focused Campus is a Smart car offered between $199 and $299 per month. The City car is a Fiat 500e or Nissan Leaf, from $399 to $499 per month. The Premium is a BMW i3 or Volkswagen e-Golf at $524 to $624 per month. Insurance is not included in those prices. However, you can buy insurance through recommended providers and track premium onto the monthly payment or you can pay for the insurance separately.
The company’s new Platinum category is a Tesla Model S. It will be $1499 monthly and will be rented on a limited basis next year. Availability is not sure because the demand is bigger than supply. Borrow CEO and cofounder Rodrigo de Guzman said that the interest in these models is so high that dealing with Model S clients is basically separate business at this point.
De Guzman has been doing shopping by himself until now, hand-picking each car separately from dealer partners and auctions. As the company scales, he and Borrow CTO and cofounder Jon Alain Guzik will try to partner with Cox Automotive to identify future inventory from auctions through an online interface. “We will buy cars from every source that makes sense. We want to make sure that we buy the right car… in a manner that allows us to get that car to our users in a reasonable amount of time,” De Guzman said.
When it comes to the buying process, it’s not like a typical dealer because you won’t complete a credit application for a lease and you won’t be going for a test drive since there is no Borrow lot. You’ll choose your vehicle by researching it and driving it elsewhere.
You might think it’s unfair for your local Nissan salesperson who took you out on that Leaf, or the BMW guy who told you all the details about i3, and you left their sales floor for Burrow. But that’s not true.
According to URBAN-X managing director Micah Kotch, the company might be doing them a favor. The MINI- and Urban Us-funded urban technology accelerator selected Borrow as one of seven companies in its fifth cohort.
Overall, it’s Borrow that’s allowing the test drive. “They’re getting more people into electric vehicles. A lot of these folks who rent a car for three months or six months or nine months will actually then wind up purchasing,” Kotch said in a phone interview.
In other words, Borrow wants to green the U.S personal vehicle fleet with a sort of experiential marketing with fixed terms. That includes other kinds of products as well, such as Incase backpacks, Prana yoga mats, Washos mobile car washing service credits and Revo sunglasses. The company has 80 brand and marketing partnerships in total.
The idea for business began with another service to lease a sustainable vehicle. What was then Prazo offered app-based two-year leases on Ford C-MAX hybrids through a local dealer.
However, customers wanted shorter terms and cheaper payments. And considering Los Angeles has many tourists, seasonal visitors and relocated employees, it builds a good ground for something non-committal.
De Guzman and Guzik officially launched Borrow in July 2017, helped by funding from local seed-stage VC Mucker Capital. Selection in the fifth URBAN-X class brings in $100,000 of no-strings-attached capital — $50,000 from MINI and $50,000 from Urban Us — and 20 weeks of intensive training and networking. The curriculum includes customer discovery, product development, communication and follow-on fundraising among others topics.
Next plan is to expand on west coast. Long-term, Borrow wants a role in tech-driven public improvements. “Not only does the electric nature of what we do set us apart but also what we’re going to use that for. How do you take what we’re doing… into how to create better and smarter cities?” De Guzman said.