US: RelayRides to promote car sharing concept to 6 million OnStar owners

Excerpts from Forbes:

A San Francisco startup that has been matching car owners and renters in two cities now hopes to expand its service nationwide with the help of General Motors and a new — and decidedly less high-tech — way for people to loan their cars.

RelayRides plans to advertise the so-called “peer-to-peer car sharing” concept to the 6 million GM car owners who subscribe to GM’s communications and assistance program OnStar. The startup and OnStar are finalizing their work on a smart phone app that will allow renters to unlock OnStar-equipped vehicles during a reserved period of time. The companies expect to launch the app in four to eight weeks, said Vijay Iyer, vice president of communications at OnStar.

Peer-to-peer car sharing involves car owners who rent out their vehicles, generally for $5-$10 per hour, through a membership-based service that coordinates the online reservation and payment process.

The service usually covers insurance and implements security measures to assure car owners their vehicles won’t be abused by renters with bad driving records. The service typically uses electronic devices and key cards to make it possible for renters to unlock cars, which ideally should be within walking distance (actual car keys should already be inside the vehicles). A conventional car rental agency, on the other hand, requires renters to stop by a store to pick up keys and is usually open only during business hours.

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