General Motors is joining the sharing economy.
General Motors announced that its OnStar subscribers can now rent out their idle vehicles through the RelayRides car sharing service, leveraging OnStar connectivity already active in their vehicles to potentially earn money to offset the cost of owning a vehicle.
RelayRides’ renters can unlock reserved OnStar-enabled cars by using their smart phones.
RelayRides is the first third-party developer to integrate with GM OnStar’s proprietary application program interface (API), which GM said will be available to other developers later this summer.
OnStar is available in Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, and Cadillac models.
GM said owners of OnStar-enabled GM vehicles will now be able rent out their cars without having to install aftermarket hardware or having to meet a renter to hand off keys as is the situation with some car sharing services.
“General Motors, through OnStar, and RelayRides have joined forces to create an entirely new mobility solution for U.S. drivers interested in more affordable, sustainable and collaborative automobile options,” said Nick Pudar, vice president of strategy and new business development for OnStar.
Through OnStar, RelayRides developers were given access to key vehicle-centric features such as location and remote door lock and unlock. This means renters can unlock the doors with their smart phone or by replying to a text message.
Depending on location and availability of the car, RelayRides says participants can earn “hundreds of dollars per month” from their idle vehicles. Owners whose cars are not OnStar-enabled can still rent out their vehicles through the RelayRides’ marketplace by exchanging keys with the renter, or reactivating their OnStar subscriptions.
Car sharing firms say that shared car means less- congested roads and less pollution.
“Using the OnStar API to access GM vehicles empowers RelayRides to make car sharing even safer and more convenient,” said Shelby Clark, RelayRides founder and chief community officer. “The sheer number of vehicles eligible for the program allows us to greatly expand across the U.S. and introduce the economic, environmental and community benefits of car sharing to regions that car sharing services have previously been unable to serve.”
RelayRides pioneered peer-to-peer car sharing when it launched in Boston in June 2010 and expanded into San Francisco later that year. In March 2012, RelayRides became the first service to launch nationwide, introducing a key-exchange program to enable renters and owners to car share. RelayRides has raised more than $13 million in venture capital funding from investors including Google Ventures, August Capital, Shasta Ventures and General Motors Ventures.
Relay Rides provides all vehicle owners with a $1 million insurance policy for owners for the duration of the rental and a $300,000 policy for renters.
For more in car sharing, collaborative consumption and the insurance implications, see this report by Insurance Journal’s Andrea Wells.