Car-sharing site RelayRides takes car-sharing national

Krystal Peak · March 5, 2012 · Short URL:

Neighbors looking to make more money can now rent their cars when they aren't in use



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.

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RelayRides is the world's first peer-to-peer carsharing service. Our revolutionary service provides the technology, infrastructure and marketplace for car owners to securely and conveniently rent out their vehicles when they are not using them personally. This provides people seeking convenient transportation with a new option, and makes it easier for urban dwellers to enjoy mobility without owning a car.  


As the average US car is driven only 66 minutes a day, RelayRides represents the first opportunity for car owners to monetize this underused asset. By providing the infrastructure, technology and marketplace for car owners to rent out their vehicles, RelayRides gives current car owners the means to monetize a largely underused asset. By enrolling in RelayRides, owners turn a car from an expense into a cash machine, with average profit of approximately $3,550 annually (net of depreciation costs).


How RelayRides Works: 

Car owners list their vehicle on the RelayRides website, designate availability, rental price, and who may rent the vehicle (via Facebook and other social networks).  Car renters browse available vehicles on, reserve a car by the hour or day, and swipe an issued card over a card reader sensor on the vehicle for access during rental. 

To streamline the rental experience, gas and insurance are included.



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Ridejoy is a community marketplace of friendly people sharing rides. We help drivers and passengers connect and get where they need to go in a fun and cost-affordable way.

Ridejoy currently helps thousands of people find rides between 300 cities on the West Coast from Vancouver, BC to Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Reno/Tahoe and Las Vegas.


Sterling Witzke

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