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RelayRides: Car Sharing With Neighbors


Zipcar left their mark on their cities, but a new company is growing and found a cheaper way to tackle car sharing.

RelayRides gives people without a car the option to rent vehicles by the hour. They provide a vehicle and handle necessities like billing the driver, providing insurance, and even paying for gas should the gas tank reach empty. From what we can tell, there is no subscription fee, and they temporarily waived the $25 sign-up fee. RelayRides is available in San Francisco and Boston, and they’re always soliciting feedback for where to launch next.

What helps distinguish RelayRides from its competitors is how the company operates. It doesn’t own any of the vehicles that fill their network. Instead, users can loan their cars to RelayRides, and the service lets their users drive them for an hourly rate. Vehicle owners specify options like the rate and availability. Once the vehicle passes the enrollment process, RelayRides installs their in-car technology and takes out a $1M insurance policy. They call it “neighbor-to-neighbor” leasing. By not owning any vehicles and just insuring the vehicles of their members, RelayRides is able to significantly reduce overhead costs. In fact, they found that people who use their service pay $1 to $2 less per hour than similar car sharing services.

It’s a pretty clever way to launch this type of company by lowering the barrier of entry. Provided that growth is in the plans, Zipcar may need to fight a little hard to maintain their market share.