Rent and ride: GM allows OnStar customers to rent out their wheels

Rent and ride: GM allows OnStar customers to rent our their wheels

Want to make some money on the side? Not the illegal can’t-report-it-to-the-tax-man-sort, but the legitimate kind? Well, if you’re looking to add some extra coin to your bank account it looks like General Motors has just the thing. The American auto maker announced this week that subscribers to its OnStar in-vehicle service will be able to rent their cars out for…you guessed it, cold hard cash.

That’s right, now you can turn your idle ride into a four-wheeled ATM. By partnering with RelayRides, an online car-sharing marketplace that launched in Boston in 2013, GM says owners of Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, and Cadillac have the potential to earn “hundreds of dollars per month” by taking advantage of the new streamlined peer-to-peer car sharing service.

Through Onstar’s proprietary API, developers at RelayRides were given access to various OnStar services, including the ability to locate and a remotely lock/unlock the vehicles. Customers picking up a car can simply unlock the doors of their rental using a smartphone or by merely replying to a text message — with the need to physically swap keys all but eliminated.

Don’t have OnStar? No need to fret. Drivers can still rent their cars through RelayRides service, but will need to exchange keys directly with would-be renters. Let the potential awkwardness and inevitable haggling commence.

For those super-fun types scratching their collective heads thinking of the legal ramifications and pitfalls, RelayRides has that covered too. The company provides vehicle owners with a $1 million insurance policy while the car is being rented. Renters are also protected with a $300,000 policy. After all: accidents do happen.

On top of championing the money-making potential  and safety benefits, GM and RelayRides are eager to point out the environmental benefit as well. Studies show that each shared car can result in up to 13 fewer cars on the road, leading to less congested roads and less pollution, GM said in its press release.

Whatever the case may be, it’s certainly a cool idea. With the price of fuel in constant flux, the ability to offset the cost of ownership is certainly alluring. Industrious individuals may even have the potential of  supplementing their entire car payments each month by renting  out their idle rides. Of course there are those who will balk at the idea of renting their cars out to total strangers, but the integration through OnStar and the various protection measure implemented by RelayRides only serves to make this a very intriguing proposition.

The only question that remains is: Who wants to rent our old Pontiac Aztek?


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