Companies in the collaborative consumption industry are diametrically opposed to the bottom-line business practices of the conventional corporation.
But at its core, collaborative consumption is all about sharing–knowledge, technology, and material assets–so the needs of many can be met without wasting time, energy, or money.
And that's why I was excited to hear that General Motors and Relay Rides are teaming up to make peer-to-peer car sharing even easier. The companies' exclusive relationship will allow millions of GM vehicle owners to rent out their idle cars through the OnStar mobile communication system.
RelayRides already allows vehicle owners to choose rates and legally rent out their idle vehicles by providing an online marketplace and a $1 million insurance policy to make the transaction safe and convenient.
Now through the new partnership, RelayRides will leverage OnStar to allow borrowers to unlock GM cars with their mobile phones. The integration makes all eligible OnStar vehicles immediately "RelayRides ready" without having to install additional hardware.
"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. "Our goal is to find ways to broaden our customer reach, reduce traffic congestion in America's largest cities and address urban mobility concerns."
RelayRides and GM will work together to develop a mobile application that will allow users to check for available vehicles, make a online reservation online, locate their reserved vehicle via GPS and lock and unlock the vehicle, all through their smart phone.
The program, which will launch in early 2012, is GM's first large-scale involvement in carsharing but it's safe to say that it probably won't be their last. With over 600,000 Americans already enrolled in some kind of car sharing program, auto makers are beginning to understand the future influence it could have on the automotive industry.
RelayRides is still a young company, and so far their peer-to-peer car sharing service is only operational in San Francisco and Boston. But with this new endeavor, the company expects to roll out service quickly in additional U.S. cities that show a high demand for car sharing.