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6 Million OnStar Vehicles Enabled for Peer-to-Peer Car-Sharing

Owners of General Motors vehicles with an OnStar subscription can now rent out their idle vehicles through the RelayRides peer-to-peer carsharing service.

RelayRides is the first third-party developer to integrate with the OnStar system. The company developed an app that allows renters to locate and unlock reserved OnStar-enabled cars with their mobile devices. GM says there are about 6 million OnStar subscribers globally. (Owners whose cars are not OnStar-enabled can still rent out their vehicles through the RelayRides' marketplace by exchanging keys with the renter.)

In October 2011, GM and RelayRides announced an exclusive partnership for carsharing. However, GM says the application program interface (API) for the OnStar system will be available later this summer to other companies that wish to develop mobile and web applications for OnStar subscribers.

"Using the OnStar API to access GM vehicles empowers RelayRides to make car sharing even safer and more convenient," said Shelby Clark, RelayRides founder and Chief Community Officer. "The sheer number of vehicles eligible for the program allows us to greatly expand across the U.S. and introduce the economic, environmental and community benefits of car sharing to regions that car sharing services have previously been unable to serve."

Studies show that each shared car results in up to 13 fewer cars on the road, leading to less-congested roads and less pollution. RelayRides launched in Boston in June 2010 and expanded into San Francisco later that year. In March 2012, RelayRides became the first service to launch nationwide.

In May, Jessica Scorpio, founder of competing car-sharing company Getaround gave an interview to Sustainable Brands about IT and the sharing economy. Getaround and a third competitor, Wheelz, both use Facebook to connect renters with vehicle owners, and both companies offer the installation of black-box devices that allow for remote entry similar to the OnStar system.

Bart King is a PR/marketing communications consultant and principal at Cleantech Communications.


Bart King is the principal of New Growth Communications, a network of affiliated content producers and strategists serving clients in the emerging green economy. He is also an associate editor for Sustainable Brands. Follow him @bart_kingGoogle+

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