San Francisco-based, neighbor-to-neighbor car sharing company RelayRides (founded in June 2010) has set itself apart from other carsharing networks like Zipcar and CityCarShare by giving car owners a chance to earn a bit of extra cash by participating in the company’s car-sharing business.
The service installs a communications device used to lock and unlock cars itself on participating cars, and has gone a step further and partnered with GM exclusively to offer an integrated locating service based on GM’s (recently controversial) OnStar GPS communications system. RelayRides’ existing communications device will allow customers to locate and unlock GM cars through a mobile app on their smartphones, which will also handle reservations.
RelayRides takes about 35% of the cost of renting the vehicle, while the participating car’s owner takes the rest. RelayRides and the car’s owner still have cover insurance on the cars, however.
Car sharing companies like RelayRides help the environment by keeping “extra” vehicles that would otherwise barely be used out of demand, potentially reducing the overall number of cars manufactured and – therefor – the amount of resources used in their manufacturing. Further, cars that aren’t built don’t need to be shipped, fueled, stored, parked, oiled, and disposed of – big wins all over, in other words.
GM also benefits by building up a subscriber base for its OnStar program, which offers a substantially higher cost/profit equation for GM than many of its cars. Stephen Girsky, vice chairman of GM, said that “(GM’s) goal is to find ways to broaden our customer reach, reduce traffic congestion in America’s largest cities and address urban mobility concerns.”
With more than 500,000 Americans enrolled in car sharing programs already, it certainly seems as if car-sharing may indeed be a significant force in the future automotive industry of the next decade. Indeed, GM is in “advanced discussions” about investing in RelayRides.
Check out the program founder walking a KCBS reporter through the neighbor-to-neighbor car sharing concept step-by-step in the video, below.