GM is introducing a new way for people who own its cars to make money: integrating a car sharing service with OnStar.
Service will be paired initially with a single company called RelayRides to offer its members a vast catalogue of available cars on the go.
“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,” said RelayRides founder Shelby Clark.
Car sharing is nothing new, and this specific system doesn’t break the mold either, but the added twist of an allowing an automaker’s entire lineup as a potentially rentable fleet could be a game changer.
Owners have the option to share their cars, generate extra money to offset their costs and help the environment all at the same time. According to GM, research indicated that every car shared takes about 13 cars off the road.
“Individuals who forgo car ownership can conveniently access affordable and reliable transportation in a Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, or Cadillac,” GM said in a press release. That all adds up to people being able to rent anything from a fuel-friendly Chevrolet Spark for grocery runs to a gaudy Escalade as a prop for low budget rap videos.
All you need is a RelayRides membership and a smartphone to get started. Owners are protected by a $1 million insurance policy while drivers are covered up to $300,000. The company also says it screens members with one of the strictest policies in the industry to weed out problem renters, all of whom owners reserve the right to refuse access to should they so decide.
RelayRides is the first service GM has opened its proprietary application program interface (API) to, but it plans to include more developers later this summer, meaning even more GM-specific third party apps.
While this might sound like a fantastic way to lessen your car payment load, or just some easy money, owners accept serious risk by participating. A $1 million policy might sound like a cure-all, but large accidents can sometimes exceed that figure.
There have already been cases where owners found themselves on the hook after a renter crashed and caused well over the covered damage. Or what if someone left an illegal substance in your car by mistake? Police don’t seem to buy the “it’s not mine” excuse very often.