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The cheapest way you can drive a Tesla right now

Tesla Model S Cheapest Rentals

The Tesla Model 3 is going to be the more affordable Tesla ever… but you’re still years away from being able to actually own one. Since most of us can’t afford to shell out the cash needed to buy either a Model S or Model X right now, that leaves us with one option if we want to drive a Tesla: Rentals.

The problem with rentals, however, is that they’re also pretty expensive. Given the high demand for Teslas on the rental car market, we’ve seen rental agencies charge anywhere from $400 to $900 per day just for the privilege of driving the hugely popular electric vehicles.

However, there is another option that will let you drive a Tesla for significantly less money and it comes in the form of peer-to-peer car rental marketplace Turo.

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In case you’ve never heard of it, Turo is sort of like an Airbnb for cars. When you’re travelling in a city and you need a set of cheap wheels, Turo can hook you up with a nearby car owner who’s willing to rent out their vehicle for prices that are lower than what you’d pay at Hertz, Avis, or Enterprise. Near my home in Boston, for example, I found a Tesla Model S that will be available to rent this summer for $149 per day.

Turo was founded in 2009 and now has available vehicles in more than 2,500 locations across the U.S., including over 300 airports. The idea behind the company is refreshingly simple: Since the average car is idle for the majority of the time, why not give car owners the opportunity to make money on their investment?

Owners who want to list their cars on Turo have the option to either set their own pricing or to have Turo set their rates for them with its dynamic pricing system that creates automated pricing based on variables such as seasonality, location and demand for vehicles. Turo tells us that a Tesla owner who puts their car up on the site can make $600 per month by renting it out.

One such Tesla owner is Joe Edgell, who has been renting out his Model S for the past four months to 40 different drivers. While many people would feel anxious about renting their expensive electric car out to complete strangers, Edgell says that Turo’s vehicle insurance policy combined with its driver rating system helped put his mind at ease. In fact, he says that there have been only two renters that he’s worked with over the past three years whom he’d describe as “iffy,” and none of them have been flat-out disasters.

This may seem surprising since YouTube is loaded with videos of people doing stupid things with their Teslas, especially when it comes to playing around with the cars’ insane acceleration or the new AutoPilot feature. That said, Edgell doesn’t rent his Tesla out to people who are under 30 and he actually encourages renters to have a little fun with the car’s acceleration just so they can get the full experience of what it’s like to drive one.

He initially started renting out his Model S for $189 per day but he found that even that seemingly low price was too high compared to what other Tesla owners were charging. He now lets Turo set the price for him and he’s charging an average of $129 per day for the car.

“When I decided to buy a Tesla, part of the decision was to turn it into a business,” he explains. “The car’s not paying for itself yet… but as summer picks up, more people will rent cars.”

Of course, given the popularity of Teslas right now, you’ll likely have to book your time with Turo users’ cars weeks in advance. That said, if you know you’re taking a trip later in the year and you want to travel around with one of the world’s most in-demand cars, Turo looks like your most affordable option.

Prior to joining BGR as News Editor, Brad Reed spent five years covering the wireless industry for Network World. His first smartphone was a BlackBerry but he has since become a loyal Android user.