Car sharing is suddenly a hot topic and a number of startups like Getaround, Wheelz and JustShareIt are trying to capture a slice of this nascent market. San Francisco-based RelayRides just leapfrogged quite a few of these by partnering with General Motor’s OnStar service. Using OnStar’s proprietary API, which will become available to other developers later this summer, the RelayRides’ potential users now include the millions of Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC owners who will now be able to rent out their cars “without the hassle of installing expensive aftermarket hardware or having to meet a renter to hand off keys.”
The company first announced its plans to work with GM last year, but it took the service a bit to make this service available. The two parties did not disclose the specific financial details of their partnership
For those who want to rent one of these GM cars, renting a RealyRides vehicle will be about as easy to use as a ZipCar. OnStar’s API provides RelayRides with location information and remote door lock and unlock features, making the process hassle-free for owners and renters.
Owners, who can add their cars to the service for free, receive 60% of the reservation fee and 100% of any gas charges and excess mileage. Those who decide to rent out their cars are also automatically protected through a $1 million insurance policy that protects them from lawsuits for injuries and property damage while the car is rented (renters are covered by a $300,000 policy). RelayRides also says that it will pay for standard comprehensive insurance and collision losses.
It’s worth noting that RelayRides itself won’t use OnStar’s location features to allow owners to track their cars while they are rented. It also asks those owners who use the OnStar Family Link feature, which does allow them to track a car, to disclose this to their renters and the company asks them not to use the service during the rental periods.
RelayRides has received $13 million in venture capital from a range of well-known investment firms, including Google Ventures, Shasta Ventures and General Motors Ventures (the last one surely helped to get the company access to OnStar).
According to RealyRides’ own data, the company added more vehicles to its fleet last month than Getaround and Wheelz combined. Almost 30% of the company’s users currently hail from California, while just 10% come from Massachusetts and 8% from New York.