Another car-sharing company is taking its condensed city service and seeing how well it can fair in the the national maker. RelayRides, which started in Boston and San Francisco, allows car owners to share their vehicle with friends and neighbors for a fee. The dual city service has decided to not roll-out the company's services in a city-by-city manner and instead blow open the availability for the whole nation on Monday.
Unlike the popular city and college-centered Zipcar service where the company purchases cars and then allows members to book reveal hours or days on the car of their choice, RelayRides is peer-to-peer. If you are a car owner that has days where your vehicle is just taking up parking space, you can rent it on RelayRides where the company says that the average car owner makes $250 a month from the program.
ZipCar, which went public last April trades on the Nasdaq with an $860 million market cap, is a leading car-sharing company.
And for those wondering, why on earth anyone would hand over their car to a complete stranger, RelayRides members are covered by a $1 million insurance policy and market-leading security safeguards, so the risk isn't as extreme as you might immediately think.
The company also touts its eco-friendly basis since it is reducing the number of cars in circulation, especially for the condensed urban areas.
While the company is at the start of its national launch, that doesn't mean that there will be cars registered or available in your town right now, but it will mean that you can start listing your car's availability so that you can make some money sharing your car.
Some of the changes that have come just before this national expansion is the phasing out of the digital unlocking system that previously has to be installed in the cars (so that renters could remotely unlock the car with their phone.) Now, the car owner hands their keys to the renter and brings in a more neighborly-feel. But for those owners of newer General Motors vehicles, RelayRides has also announced a partnership with GM to use built-in OnStar devices to unlock and start cars -- but that hasn’t gone live yet.
RelayRides is also similar to another peer-to-peer car-sharing service -- Getaround -- that lets users rent cars in their neightborhood using their website or iPhone app, but the company is only in beta and is focused on San Francisco.
And, just last week, a new Palo Alto, Calif.-based Wheelz, announced that it's received $13.7 million in a Series A round of funding, led by ZipCar. The new funding brought Wheelz total amount of funding to $15 million. Even though Wheelz is only available at Stanford University, where it launched last September, it is expected to open up on the University of Berkeley campus this month.
Another company, Ridejoy received $1.2 million in funding from Y Combinator earlier this year, to allow people to share rides with like-minded strangers. While Ridejoy focuses on helping car owners share rides rather than rent cars, it folds right into the car-sharing family.
And just earlier this year, some may remember that a high-end peer-to-peer car service HiGear crashed and burned. The company, that was previously showing some promise was targeted by a ring of car thieves. As of January 2, HiGear announced that the recent theft of $400,000 worth of vehicles forced the five-month-old company to discontinue its services.
Thankfully, RelayRides has not had the bad luck that HiGear has since the service doesn't focus on cars worth $100,000+.
RelayRides’ has received $13 million in VC funding from investors including Google Ventures, August Capital, Shasta Ventures, and GM Ventures.