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RelayRides, San Francisco Startup, Gets Investment From General Motors

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DETROIT (AP) -- General Motors Co. is hoping to stay on the leading edge of transportation trends by investing in a San Francisco company that links people who need temporary wheels with others who want to rent out a vehicle they're not using.

GM said it will make a small investment in RelayRides and provide the fledgling ride-sharing company with its OnStar service to let people who are borrowing GM cars unlock them with their cell phones.

GM Vice Chairman Steve Girsky said in an interview on Tuesday that GM isn't sure the idea will take off, but his company wants to be on the cutting edge if it does, especially with younger people who are more open to the idea of short-term rentals or letting others use their vehicles.

"We don't know if this will work," Girsky said. "But as Wayne Gretzky said, you miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take."
GM declined to say how much it is investing in RelayRides.

The deal could increase GM vehicles' exposure with new customers, he said.

RelayRides lets car owners defray some of the cost of ownership with rental income, Girsky said.

"It's also equivalent to a hassle-free test drive," he said. The opportunity to check out GM cars this way could be especially important the Chevrolet Volt, a rechargeable electric car that has an onboard generator that kicks in when the batteries are depleted, Girsky said.

RelayRides now operates in San Francisco and Boston and plans to expand to other U.S. markets.

The program with General Motors vehicles will begin early next year.

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