General Motors and RelayRides, a peer-to-peer car-sharing service that allows private car owners to rent their vehicles, announced a partnership and possible investment this week. Under an exclusive two-year agreement, RelayRides users will be able to unlock G.M. vehicles that are registered with the car-sharing service and subscribed to OnStar, the automaker’s communication service, with a mobile phone app.
For OnStar subscribers who sign up for RelayRides, the mobile access would take the place of aftermarket hardware installed by the start-up, saving RelayRides about $500 per vehicle, according to Andre Haddad, the company’s chief executive. In essence, cars will be coming off the line equipped for car sharing.
G.M., meanwhile, is poised to put more skin in the game. G.M. Ventures, the company’s venture capital arm, is in advanced discussions with RelayRides to make a “small” equity investment within the next few weeks or months, said the G.M. vice chairman, Stephen Girsky, in a telephone interview this week.
The RelayRides partnership is expected to be introduced in Northern California in 2012 and expand nationally by year’s end. The companies plan to demo the mobile app for the next several months at events, beginning this weekend in San Francisco.
In addition to generating revenue for G.M., the relationship could help the automaker reach new customers, said Mr. Girsky. He described RelayRides rentals as “hassle-free test drives,” affording G.M. access to the start-up’s 3,000 registered borrowers.
Read the entire article at: The New York Times Wheels Blog
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