RelayRides, a car-sharing service that lets you rent (or rent out) cars a few hours at a time, has raised an additional $3 million in funding, adding on to the company’s Series A round that now totals $13M. More important than the money is who took part in the round: it was led by General Motors Ventures, with participation from the company’s existing investors.
The funding is connected to a recent deal that RelayRides forged with GM, which will allow RelayRides users to tap into the OnStar system that has come equipped on all GM cars since 2005 (that’s around 15 million cars). After connecting their OnStar accounts to RelayRides, renters will be able to remotely unlock the cars they’ve signed up for using their mobile phones, without having to deal with swapping physical keys.
This isn’t a new idea — RelayRides competitor Getaround has an aftermarket car kit that you can install, which will allow renters to unlock the car using the service’s mobile app. But RelayRides will do this one better with the OnStar integration, as no kit is required for remote unlocking.
This OnStar functionality will be rolling out in early 2012. Which, as it happens, is around when RelayRides plans to expand its service area to more cities (right now you can only rent cars in San Francisco and Boston).