Need Wheels In Walla Walla? RelayRides Car-Sharing Goes National

March 6, 2012


Strapped for cash? Have a working car in the driveway? Now you can rent it out using RelayRides, anywhere in the U.S.

We've talked about RelayRides before: it's a car-sharing start-up that allows folks with under-used wheels to loan them out to friends and strangers in exchange for cold, hard ducats. Borrowers sign up using their driver's license number (to ensure that they meet eligibility requirements), then search for cars in their neck of the woods. They can then meet up with the chosen vehicle's owner to get the keys, or for some cars, they can use a smartphone for entry.

RelayRides got a major boost last fall when General Motors became a supporter of the start-up. Not only did RelayRides receive an investment from General Motors Ventures, but the automaker also allows RelayRides to use its OnStar system to facilitate borrowing. (In a nutshell, OnStar unlocks rides for borrowers in the same way that it unlocks cars for owners who've left their keys inside.)

The biggest downside for car-sharing enthusiasts has been that, until recently, RelayRides has been limited to specific areas of the country -- primarily, Boston and San Francisco. As of yesterday, though, RelayRides is nationwide, allowing folks from Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon to get in on the action.

Our take: we still have some concerns about the viability of car-sharing programs. After all, bike-sharing programs have been huge disappointments in nearly every market in the world. Most of those programs, however, were run by government agencies, while RelayRides is essentially run by the individual loaners and borrowers in its network. That could make for a much different outcome.

Then, too, there's the fact that Americans are traveling less than they used to, and younger folks aren't so interested in cars. RelayRides -- and other sharing programs like Getaround -- may be poised for success.

Looking for a quick demo of how RelayRides works? Check the company website, or watch the quick video below:

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