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SK acquires stake in U.S. car-sharing business

Sept 08,2017
SK Group has acquired shares in American peer-to-peer car-sharing company Turo as part of an effort to gain ground in the expanding global mobility market.

The company did not disclose the exact amount of the investment on Thursday. SK was one of the main investors for Turo’s Series D fund, worth $92 million, alongside German carmaker Daimler AG. The U.S. start-up had recently been looking for investors in order to grow its business.

Established in 2009, Turo started out as a start-up in San Francisco. Its main service is an online platform that allows people to rent and return personal cars.

The model is different from the prevalent car-sharing services in Korea which manage and rent cars owned by the company - rather than cars owned by users.

From the consumer’s perspective, Turo’s peer-to-peer system is cheaper to the borrower and allows the renter to make money on cars they are not currently using. It proved to be particularly popular among younger consumers more likely to economize and already familiar with the sharing economy.

The company has doubled every year and is now operating over 170,000 cars across 4,700 cities in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom. It has more than four million users.

SK has been eyeing the car-sharing market for some time now, having acquired shares in SoCar, the local market leader, back in 2015. It also recently established a joint corporation for car-sharing in Malaysia where services will start later this year.

“Car-sharing and the usage pattern of cars will meet a fundamental revolution in the future,” said Hwang Keun-joo, an executive at SK. “We’re hoping the investment will help us find more business opportunities in the global market and generate mutual growth between SoCar, Turo and Malaysia JV.”


BY SONG KYOUNG-SON [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]