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Sep 5 2012

If you read our recent article on Fiat’s move to install an on-board espresso maker into the 500L, you might be thinking that automakers have run out of A-List ideas of vehicle options to improve sales. Well, we’re happy to announce that GM has not moved to the B-List yet.

GM rocked the Chicago Auto show in 1996 with the introduction of OnStar, an on-board device that promised automatic crash response, roadside assistance, stolen vehicle tracking, and turn-by-turn navigation. What’s more, absentminded drivers no longer needed to call a locksmith if they locked their pesky keys in in their vehicle; OnStar could unlock it remotely. Pretty innovative for the late 90s.

Since then GM has made several significant improvements on their OnStar system, but nothing that has brought the product back into the limelight it had in the late 90's. Their latest improvement for OnStar just might be a winner.  It not only might help sell more GM vehicles, it could pay for them as well.  Recently, GM has entered into a partnership with RelayRides, a peer-to-peer car-sharing marketplace (think Airbnb meets ZipCar). The partners have created a mobile app that integrates with Onstar’s API to connect prospective renters with GM owners that are looking to make some money by renting their vehicle out.

How it works

OnStar owners who opt in set the price for their vehicle, list vehicles availability and approve only the requests that work for them.  In addition, owners can set criteria for potential renters so that they only receive offers from those that have been screened against their criteria.  RelayRides provides the marketplace for perspective renters, the insurance (Their site claims $1,000,000 coverage), screens drivers in advance based on the car owners criteria, and handle the rental transaction. 

Where does OnStar come in?  They make the logistics of renting much easier. Once the renter is near the car, OnStar allows them to unlock the vehicle using their mobile device and drive it away.  This removes a big hurdle for both parties involved, making it possible, and even easy, to rent out a vehicle for a couple of hours while you are working, or to rent it out while you are thousands of miles away.  On its website, RelayRides claims that people willing to rent their vehicle can earn $600 or more per month.  For some drivers that could mean this new OnStar option not only pays for itself, it pays for the the whole vehicle.

How do you feel about letting others drive your car or truck? Would an accessory like this be a selling point for you?  If you could cover the majority of your vehicles payment by renting it out would you do it? 

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