Students can now take longer trips on a budget using a new app that lets students rent cars from each other.
Lula is a car rental service through which users can sign up and select whether they want to rent cars or let other students rent their cars. Cars can be rented by the hour and by the day, and car owners can select the rate they charge renters. The app is designed specifically for college students, said Matthew Vega-Sanz, the CEO and co-founder of the service. Vega-Sanz started the company in 2016 and released the first version of the app this spring in Massachusetts and planned to officially launch it in August.
UCLA students started downloading the app over the summer, said Vega-Sanz. Students from other universities in California such as the University of Southern California, Long Beach State and California State University, Chico have also begun renting cars from each other using the app.
The company has grown at a faster pace than anticipated, Vega-Sanz said.
“We anticipated to be on 30 (different campuses) by the end of December,” Vega-Sanz said. “Now we have cars in about 100 campuses.”
Vega-Sanz said he thinks car rental services are not typically catered to people under 25 years old. For example, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, ACE Rent a Car and Avis Rent a Car do not let people under 21 rent cars and charge an additional $20, $10 and $27 per day respectively to renters under 25 years old.
Lula has no underage fee and allows car owners to set the price of their cars. The average car with Lula costs $7 per hour, and students can rent cars for around $20 a day said Vega-Sanz. Although there have not been any accidents yet, there is a $1 million liability insurance policy for every rental.
Jasper Mok, a second-year psychology student, said he thinks he may use the app for more long-term trips but will stick with ride services for basic transportation because they are more convenient.
“If I want to go on a road trip for a day, (Lula) would be very useful because I don’t care about car quality that much when I’m going somewhere for a day trip,” he said.
However, Mok also said he thinks users’ ability to use the app will heavily depend on the availability of the cars being rented out. Unlike ride-share services, which pick riders up within minutes, Lula users would have to plan their rentals in advance.
However, Mok is an international student and said that most international students do not have their own car, so if he wanted to go on a road trip, he would have to rent or borrow a car.
Patrick Gardner, a fourth-year psychology student, said he does not have a car on campus, but lives in Los Angeles and sometimes uses his family car. He added he may use Lula but it would depend on the price of the rental. Like Mok, Gardner said he would be more likely to use the app for longer trips such as trips to other parts of California.
Callan Buechsenschuetz, a third-year molecular, cellular and developmental biology student, said she would use Lula because ride-sharing can be costly for longer trips or trips with multiple stops.
“It’s smart,” Buechsenschuetz said. “Uber gets expensive and Zipcar seems like a hassle.”
Buechsenschuetz added she goes on excursions most weekends and likes the convenience of student-to-student car rentals.
Most people use Lula on the weekend, Vega-Sanz said. Students can rent cars for a day or two to travel to theme parks like Six Flags Magic Mountain or Disneyland.
“We have a lot of students who use it for road trips,” Vega-Sanz said. “(Lula) gives students the opportunity to explore their city or the rest of their states.”
Lula has no minimum or maximum rental fee. Vega-Sanz said that the major goal of his company is to provide more affordable and convenient transportation to students.
“At the end of the day, if you can access a car for a couple of dollars, students can save money for more important things than transportation,” Vega-Sanz said.