General Motors and RelayRides, a peer-to-peer carsharing marketplace, announced an exclusive relationship that will allow millions of GM vehicle owners to leverage the OnStar system to rent out their idle cars through the RelayRides marketplace.
The program, which will launch in early 2012, is GM’s first large-scale involvement in carsharing. RelayRides allows vehicle owners to choose to rent out their idle vehicles, with the owner controlling the rates and availability of the car. RelayRides provides an online marketplace and a $1-million insurance policy to make the transaction safe and convenient.
RelayRides will leverage OnStar technology through a mobile application to allow customers to check for available vehicles; make a online reservation online as well as check future reservations; locate their reserved vehicle via GPS; and lock and unlock the vehicle, all through their smart phone.
For vehicles that are not OnStar-enabled, RelayRides must install a small device in the car to provide convenient access to borrowers. The integration makes all eligible OnStar vehicles immediately “RelayRides ready” without having to install additional hardware.
The program initially will promote the relationship through various events and demonstrations in California to showcase GM’s OnStar and RelayRides technology, and will feature Chevrolet vehicles, including the Volt extended-range electric vehicle. Participation in the RelayRides carsharing program is voluntary.
Founded in June 2010, RelayRides is currently available in San Francisco and Boston, and plans to strategically expand to US areas that demonstrate high consumer demand.
According to Innovative Mobility Research, carsharing in North America has grown from 400,000 users in 2009 to 640,000 in July 2011. A study from Frost & Sullivan projects carsharing will have an estimated 4.4 million users by 2016.
General Motors Ventures LLC is in advanced discussions with RelayRides about an investment in the company as part of GM’s overall commitment to addressing urban mobility issues.