DETROIT -- General Motors, making its first foray into car sharing, is teaming up with RelayRides, a San Francisco-based car-sharing service, to help GM owners rent their idle vehicles.
RelayRides, formed in June 2010, operates in San Francisco and Boston. It allows vehicle owners to rent their idle vehicles using an online marketplace.
The owner controls the rates and availability of the vehicle. The company provides online access and a $1 million insurance policy to make the transaction convenient and safe for borrowers.
Starting early next year, GM vehicle owners who are OnStar subscribers will be able to give borrowers access to their vehicles using RelayRides' planned smartphone app.
RelayRides users now have to install a remote-unlock device in their vehicles to give borrowers access to the vehicles.
GM's venture-capital unit, GM Ventures, is in advanced discussions about acquiring an equity stake in RelayRides, the automaker said today.
"We're using technology to make both our older and newest models car-share ready and available for those owners who choose to participate in car sharing," GM Vice Chairman Stephen Girsky said in a 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."
In North America, car sharing has grown from 400,000 users in 2009 to 640,000 in July, according to Innovative Mobility Research. It is forecast to grow to an estimated 4.4 million users by 2016, studies show.
In August, Ford Motor Co. announced plans to provide Zipcar Inc. with 1,000 cars for use in Zipcar's college car-sharing fleets. Ford expanded the Zipcar alliance on Tuesday with a program that provides student groups with $300,000 in grants and Zipcar driving credits.
Toyota Motor Corp. also provides Zipcar with a small number of Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid cars in San Francisco, Boston and Portland, Ore.
Daimler AG operates a car-sharing service called Car2go that provides its tiny Smart car to borrowers in Austin, Texas; Hamburg and Ulm, Germany; and Vancouver, British Columbia.