Remember that partnership between OnStar and RelayRides we wrote about last March? Well it's finally coming to fruition today, with the peer-to-peer car sharing service launching support for remote door unlocking via OnStar's proprietary API. As a result, RelayRides members with OnStar-enabled vehicles no longer have to exchange keys in person if they so choose. Another benefit is that participants can list their automobile on RelayRides directly from their OnStar account -- renters then benefit from the added safety and security that comes with OnStar.
We had the chance to test an early version of the functionality on a Chevy Volt at SXSW a few months ago and it worked pretty much as advertised. There was a bit of a delay between the time we sent the unlock command from RelayRides' website on the demo iPad and the moment the doors actually unlocked on the car, but we're told this has been significantly improved since our hands-on. Of course, RelayRides also supports remote unlocking via text message. Take a look at the galleries below then hit the break for our hands-on video, RelayRides' video and OnStar's PR.
RelayRides with OnStar hands-on
RelayRides with OnStar PRSee all photos
RelayRides and OnStar: Baby, You Can Rent My Car
Millions of subscribers can instantly access nationwide peer-to-peer car sharing market
DETROIT – General Motors' OnStar subscribers can now rent out their idle vehicles through the RelayRides marketplace, leveraging OnStar connectivity already active in their vehicles to potentially earn hundreds of dollars a month to offset the cost of owning a vehicle.
RelayRides' renters can unlock reserved OnStar-enabled cars simply by using their mobile phones. RelayRides is the first third-party developer to integrate with GM OnStar's proprietary application program interface (API) that will be available to other developers later this summer.
OnStar's connectivity solution provides RelayRides' members with increased security, reliability and accessibility. Individuals who forgo car ownership can conveniently access affordable and reliable transportation in a Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, or Cadillac. Owners of these OnStar-enabled GM vehicles rent out their cars and turn their idle vehicles into an income source without the hassle of installing expensive aftermarket hardware or having to meet a renter to handoff keys.
"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 Nick Pudar, Vice President Strategy and New Business Development, OnStar. "Our exclusive relationship with RelayRides provides an exciting new choice: the first automobiles to run on collaborative consumption."
Through OnStar's proprietary API, RelayRides developers were given access to key vehicle-centric features such as location and remote door lock and unlock. This means renters can unlock the doors with their smart phone or by replying to a text message. Depending on location and availability of the car, RelayRides marketplace participants can earn hundreds of dollars per month from their idle vehicles. Owners whose cars are not OnStar-enabled can still rent out their vehicles through the RelayRides' marketplace by exchanging keys with the renter, or reactivating their OnStar subscriptions.
OnStar services are enabled by its Advanced Telematics Operating Management System (ATOMS), which is the most powerful automotive cloud platform in the market today and connects close to 6 million OnStar customers globally. As of late summer 2012, OnStar will make its proprietary API available to third-party developers.
Studies show that each shared car results in up to 13 fewer cars on the road, leading to less congested roads and less pollution.
"Using the OnStar API to access GM vehicles empowers RelayRides to make car sharing even safer and more convenient," said Shelby Clark, RelayRides founder and Chief Community Officer. "The sheer number of vehicles eligible for the program allows us to greatly expand across the U.S. and introduce the economic, environmental and community benefits of car sharing to regions that car sharing services have previously been unable to serve."
RelayRides pioneered peer-to-peer car sharing when it launched in Boston in June 2010 and expanded into San Francisco later that year. In March 2012, RelayRides became the first service to launch nationwide, introducing a key-exchange program to enable renters and owners to enjoy the benefits of car sharing. RelayRides covers all rentals with a $1 million insurance policy for owners and a $300,000 policy for renters.