DETROIT TheStreet) -- General Motors ( GM) has moved to enter the little known peer-to-peer carsharing business, announcing a partnership with startup company RelayRides. RelayRides allows vehicle owners to rent those vehicles to others, with the San Francisco-based firm providing a marketplace and insurance. General Motors Ventures LLC is in "advanced discussions" with RelayRides about an investment in the company, GM said.
The planned partnership would link GM's OnStar system to RelayRides, enabling the owners to rent out their cars using OnStar, which would be available in a mobile application that would allow potential customers to check for vehicles and make reservations with their smart phones. The relationship will launch early in 2012. Additionally, RelayRides customers could use OnStar to unlock GM cars with their mobile phones. The technologies could be extended to cars that are not OnStar enabled. "We're using technology to make both our older and newest models carshare ready and available for those owners who choose to participate in carsharing," said Stephen Girsky, GM vice chairman, in a prepared statement. "Our goal is to find ways to broaden our customer reach, reduce traffic congestion in America's largest cities and address urban mobility concerns." Initially, the program will be promoted at events and demonstrations in California and will feature Chevrolet vehicles including the Volt. Founded in June 2010, RelayRides is currently available in San Francisco and Boston, with expansion planned. Studies show that carsharing in North America has grown from 400,000 users in 2009 to 640,000 users in July 2011, GM said. In August, Ford ( F) announced a partnership with Zipcar, another car-sharing service, under which Ford would provide vehicles to be used at Zipcar locations on college campuses. -- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C. >To contact the writer of this article, click here:
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