Monday, November 28, 2011

RelayRides meets GM meets Google

General Motors and RelayRides are teaming up to streamline the peer-to-peer car sharing process. The companies' exclusive relationship will allow millions of GM vehicle owners to rent out their idle cars through the OnStar mobile communication system.

RelayRides, a P2P car sharing service, already allows vehicle owners to choose rates and legally rent out their idle vehicles by providing an online marketplace and a $1 million insurance policy to make the transaction safe and convenient.

GM and RelayRides work together to develop a mobile app that will allow users to check for available vehicles, make a online reservation online, locate their reserved vehicle via GPS and lock and unlock the vehicle, all through their smart phone. RelayRides will leverage OnStar to allow borrowers to unlock GM cars with their mobile phones. The integration makes all eligible OnStar vehicles immediately "RelayRides ready" without having to install additional hardware.

In addition, Google Ventures has invested an undisclosed sum into RelayRides. August Capital also took part in the company’s first round of fundraising. This funding points to how fast automobile transportation as a product service system is evolving. There are now three generations of car sharing developing simultaneously - fleet based, peer-to-peer, and Google's automatic driving. And other big companies including Hertz, Daimler, and Enterprise have gotten into the game fairly recently creating hybrid services like car rental with ride sharing (take a passenger with you to lower your car rental cost).

"In addition to the significance of the Google investment to stimulating new investment in the space, the rapid growth of car sharing could accelerate the growth of the sharing economy in another way. Our New Sharing Economy study showed that car sharers share across significantly more asset categories than non-car sharers. This suggests that car sharing is a gateway drug to sharing. It echoes a consistent theme I see as publisher of Shareable, that sharing begets more sharing. In fact, sharing is viral. Once someone sees that it works in one area of life, they want to try it in another. And since you can't share alone, you take other people with you down the path to a more shareable way of life." --Neal Gorenflo Editor of Shareable

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