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Car-sharing startup Getaround raises $140 mln as business recovers from pandemic low

Oct 14 (Reuters) - Car-sharing company Getaround Inc on Wednesday said it has raised $140 million in additional venture capital funding at a time when its business is seeing growing demand and recovering from a collapse during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.

The San Francisco-based company, backed by Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp, has raised a total of nearly $600 million since it was founded more than ten years ago and in previous rounds was valued at more than $1.5 billion.

The company allows private vehicle owners to rent out their cars through Getaround’s platform on an hourly or daily basis and operates in over 100 U.S. cities and more than 170 European locations after the company acquired a local competitor in 2019.

Getaround’s business suffered during the initial outbreak of the novel coronavirus in March and April, when demand dropped 75% and the company sought financial support from a U.S. pandemic aid program. Media reports at the time also said Getaround was actively seeking a buyer.

Sam Zaid, Getaround’s chief executive, in an interview declined to comment on what he called speculations, but said the funding would take Getaround to the healthiest position it has ever been in.

“This round of funding really helps us achieve our goal of profitability,” Zaid said, adding that the money would be used to grow existing markets. He declined to provide a profitability timeline, but said more recently people’s desire to escape their homes for trips caused revenue to more than double from pre-pandemic times.

Getaround was also looking to accelerate the use of electric vehicles on its platform, particularly in Europe, where cities have been more aggressive at phasing out combustion engines, Zaid said.

Asked whether Getaround was considering a public listing through a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), Zaid said the company was always interested in new investment opportunities, but did not elaborate.

Reporting by Tina Bellon in New York; Editing by Aurora Ellis

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