General Motors and OnStar to soon offer car-sharing image

General Motors showed its confidence in the car-sharing trend late last year when it signed a two-year agreement with the car-sharing startup RelayRides that will allow GM owners with OnStar to make their cars available to RelayRides members, who can unlock them using their cell phones.

The two companies say the partnership, which will be announced today, allows owners of GM vehicles to rent their cars or trucks to other people for extra cash.

And like other car sharing services like Zipcar, the service is intended as a great way for city dwellers to stay mobile without owning a car.

Using OnStar’s proprietary API, which will become available to other developers later this summer, the RelayRides’ potential users now include the millions of Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC owners who will now be able to rent out their cars “without the hassle of installing expensive aftermarket hardware or having to meet a renter to hand off keys.”

RelayRides, which first launched in the Summer of 2010, has been building a network of car owners and drivers interested in using cars a service. For much of the time, RelayRides has been installing a communications device in the vehicles to facilitate the reservation process, which can be a somewhat expensive and labor-intensive process.

Vijay Iyer, OnStar’s vice president of communications, said the collaboration provides an extra benefit for car buyers who choose GM and activate OnStar. RelayRides also could expose more people to GM.

“It’s a great opportunity to get people in our cars who otherwise wouldn’t,” Iyer said, suggesting that local GM dealers might even list some of their test-drive vehicles as rentals.