GM OnStar subscribers can rent cars via smart phone with RelayRides

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A rear-view mirror that features the OnStar button.

With RelayRides, OnStar customers will soon be able to rent cars via smart phone. (Photo Credit: CC BY/Tyler/Wikipedia)

Business rental vehicles are a vital part of everyday commerce in the U.S., and General Motors believes that this is more than enough reason to simplify the rental process. The Detroit News reports that 6 million GM OnStar subscribers will soon be able to rent GM vehicles through the San Francisco-based car sharing business RelayRides. This will enable consumers to streamline the rental car process by avoiding the rental office entirely, even for the keys to a car.

Rent a ride with OnStar and RelayRides, keys not required

The newly forged partnership between OnStar and RelayRides will be officially announced today, according to General Motors. New service resulting from the partnership will enable GM owners to rent out their cars or trucks to other people for a fee. In order to make this work – and here’s the real kicker – OnStar has given RelayRides permission to create technology that will allow renters to unlock and operate OnStar-equipped vehicles via a smart phone app or text message. Keys apparently will not even be required.

Financial specifics of the deal between OnStar and RelayRides have not been disclosed.

Increasing GM exposure

One of the many noted benefits of the OnStar-RelayRides deal is that a larger consumer base will be exposed to General Motors vehicles. GM and OnStar will in turn reach a younger, smart phone-wielding audience. A GM spokesman noted that by the time the new program takes off, an additional 9 million GM cars dating back to 2005 could be added to the newer cars in the program, provided the car owners activate OnStar service.

“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 GM Vice Chairman Steve Girsky. “Our exclusive relationship with RelayRides provides an exciting new choice: the first automobiles to run on collaborative consumption.”

RelayRides grows by leaps and bounds

Since launching out of Boston in June 2010, RelayRides has grown fast, going national in March 2012.

“Since our nationwide launch, we’ve been growing at an incredible rate,” said Shelby Clark, RelayRides’ founder and chief community officer.

Los Angeles, Miami, Boston, San Francisco and New York have all been huge growth areas for RelayRides.

“We’ve grown to thousands of cars across the country and tens of thousands of renters,” Clark continued.

He went on to predict that his company’s partnership with OnStar will also make inroads in Detroit soon.

“It’s a huge opportunity for us to grow in the marketplace and provide even more value for both owners and renters,” he said.

How much the service will cost

Reports indicate that even non-GM vehicle owners will still be able to access RelayRides via the World Wide Web. Rates vary by vehicle and region. In Detroit, for instance, prices range from $6.75 an hour or $33.75 per day for a 2009 Honda Accord, up to $40 per hour or $175 per day for a 2009 Porsche Cayenne. Weekly rates are also available. Clark notes that vehicle owners are averaging $250 per month in revenue nationally, while some top $1,000.

The profit breakdown at RelayRides is 60 percent to the vehicle owners and 40 percent to RelayRides to cover insurance policies and other support infrastructure.

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RelayRides provides a $1 million insurance policy to protect vehicle owners from lawsuits for injuries and property damage. The company will also pay comprehensive and collision losses. Vehicle renters are also protected for physical damage up to the value of the car, as well as $300,000 in liability coverage.

How OnStar RelayRides work


The Detroit News



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