I Pondered Starting a Maserati Turo Rental Business Until I Realized I’m Not an Idiot
Maserati is what the kids say, "very mid."
Lately I’ve been entertaining grandiose ideas of becoming a Turo host. I’m still early in the ideation and number-crunching phase of my big Turo plan, so I’m unsure what mobile AirBnB I want to throw my well-earned investo-dollars toward. Should I expose Columbusites to a Mitsubishi Mirage that’s reminiscent of Homer Simpson riding a bike at clown college? Maybe it would be wise to finance a new Tesla and pray to every deity that I’ll generate a high rotation of folks to cover the car payment and make a profit. According to one YouTuber, the answer is neither. The optimal vehicle to buy is apparently a used Maserati.
In fairness, Youtuber and Turo host Aubrey Janik’s advice has revolved around the buy cheap, maintain cheap style of Turo management. She insists that aspiring Turo hosts should not over-leverage themselves with high-risk debt and multiple expensive car loans. Instead, they should use cash to purchase a cheap compact or subcompact car.
But, in a recent video, Janik revealed that she diversified her Turo portfolio by financing a used Maserati, a move that she says has paid big dividends to her bottom line. To her, the risk is low, because she believes Maseratis are super nice and can’t depreciate that much more than they already have. Thus, the financial risk assumed by a car loan is minimal.
The idea was intriguing to me. With dollar signs in my eyes and Autotrader-bound trigger fingers, I sprinted to the cheapest late-model, clean-title Maserati in the area. From what I saw, an Italian stallion might just be the ticket to passive income. I just had to know, could this work for me in Ohio?
The example I drove was a 2016 Maserati Quattroporte S Q4. It had the smaller twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 mated to a ZF 8-speed automatic, which sent power to all four wheels. This used example felt generally good on the road, but there’s not a hell of a lot of things I can say about the driving experience that I could glean from a 15-minute drive. I thought the car was fine, especially for its potential intended use as a Turo mule that I’d probably sparingly see. The price on the used market seems attractive, but I just couldn’t help but feel that it was nowhere near as nice as its initial MSRP suggested. Who would be dumb enough to spend nearly $120,000 for one brand new?
The Quattroporte’s interior materials felt of good quality but not nice enough to cost as much as a starter home in suburban Ohio. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA)-branded switchgear made itself glaringly obvious all over the interior. Window switches, light switches, and more were obviously the same as what you’d find in a Jeep Renegade. The plebian switchgear worked well enough, but the chemicals in my brain couldn’t help but shout the phrase, “I am not paying a mortgage-level car payment for things I’d see in a Jeep Renegade”.
I knew that luxo-barges like the BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class tend to depreciate like stones in the ocean, but Maseratis are akin to someone chucking a cinder block out of the side of a helicopter. In 2015, this Maserati Quattroporte sold for $117,000. About 52,000 miles and six years later, that same car is barely worth $30,000. In about a year and a half alone, the vehicle lost more than half its value, dropping from $117,000 to $54,000. Woof.
I wonder who in 2015 walked into the Maserati showroom and happily plopped down $117,000 for this mid car. Had they ever been inside any other FCA product of the era? Literally any? Sure, the Quattroporte is pretty to look at, and the 3.0TT makes a pleasing sound, but is that enough to piss more than $50,000 down the drain in less than two years? At that point, someone buying a new Maserati is similar to watching your grandma fall for a phishing scam over the phone. There comes a time in an adult’s life when you’ve got to take the phone away from your elderly relative and explain to them that the IRS will not ask you to buy gift cards to unlock your tax return.
Still, one person’s financial folly could be another person’s come up, right? All that depreciation means the Quattroporte is cheap to buy, compared to its used-car rivals of the same year. Would the Maserati work as a Turo car here in Ohio? According to Turo’s Carculator, a 2016 Maserati Quattroporte would earn $96 per day (after fees; it would list for $128 per day), and spend an average of 12.8 days out per month, equalling $1,228.80 per month of gross profit. If I financed the entire car, I’d be looking at a roughly $650 payment. Add in about $200 per month in insurance, and I’d be netting $378.80 per month. I suppose that isn’t terrible for passive income, but that leaves me little funds for maintenance or any unexpected repair. We all know that Maseratis aren’t known for low-cost, infrequent maintenance.
I didn’t hate the Quattroporte, but I wondered, is it even nice enough to command a fee of $128 per day? Anecdotally, I’ve noticed that high-priced Turo rentals in central Ohio languish on the app, sitting unbooked for weeks at a time. TikTokers might be the canary in the coal mine; Gen Zers love to dogpile on Maserati’s perceived lack of quality and high price tag. And you know what? They might be right.
Would I buy or rent a Maserati? No, my short test drive was enough. To me, the same year Chrysler 300 will offer about 85% of the driving and luxury experience for about a third of the purchase price. True, it may not have as much earning potential as the Maserati, but it is significantly cheaper to run and repair. Also, its lower suggested rental cost means it is marketable to a wider range of possible renters.
The Maserati just felt like a very mid car for everyone involved. It’s nice enough, but it didn’t feel like it was worth the price of admission. It’s the type of car you admire from afar but never really pull the trigger on ownership. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to buy, rent, or own one, for any reason at all, aside from satiating their curiosity and experiencing a Maserati for likely the only time in their lives. I don’t think there’s enough of those people in central Ohio to justify me buying and renting out one.
If I do decide to jump in the Turo game, I don’t think it’ll be with a Maserati.
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