Hyundai will give away free rides in its ad-branded EVs

Users of the ridesharing startup WaiveCar get two hours to drive around in the carmaker's brand-new electric vehicle.

Ride sharing is getting some serious interest with both titans and startups: Google opened its Waze Rider program in the Bay Area back in September, while Danish carmaker Spiri will unleash its fleet of small, spry electric vehicles for a ride-sharing pilot program starting next year in Europe. Not to be outdone, Hyundai is lending EV versions of its IONIQ sedan to ad-supported ride-sharing startup WaiveCar, which will start deploying them in LA.

As per their deal, WaiveCar users will be able to take an IONIQ for a completely free two-hour spin. In exchange, the car displays ads on the body and roof, with a 4G data connection in the car to adjust advertising depending on where the driver goes and at what time of day. Users can keep the car past the free period for $6 per hour or skip the fee by dropping the car off in designated WaiveCar spots.

It's smart for both the giant carmaker and the small startup, which gets a beginning shipment of 150 of the efficient EVs, which won't even be commercially available in the US until 2017. Hyundai, on the other hand, gives interested drivers a relaxed opportunity to see how the car would fit their lifestyle while zooming around in a heavily-branded vehicle. Whether the advertising opportunity recoups both companies' costs for giving away free rides, it's a great proving ground for ideas to jumpstart affordable ridesharing.