RelayRides Takes Peer-to-Peer Car Sharing Nationwide


RelayRides, the world's first peer-to-peer car sharing service, is breaking out of San Francisco and Boston and is launching nationwide today. “Anybody in the country will be able to enroll their car and rent [out] their cars right away,” says Shelby Clark, the company’s founder and Chief Community Officer.  RelayRides introduces us to the revolutionary concept of neighbors renting out their cars to fellow neighbors.  A renter can get a car for as little as $5 an hour.

What are the benefits of personal car sharing?  It is “more affordable, more accessible, and more efficient,” according to Clark. The average shared car “takes 14 other cars off the road,” thus allowing people to meet their mobility needs using far fewer cars. Clark explained.  It is “really good for the environment, community, and local economy.”

RelayRides makes a lot of sense financially in this down economy and in general. Car owners should think of it this way: That car you drive only a few days a week can make you some money when you aren’t using it. On average a car owner using RelayRides can earn $200-$250 a month.  (That’s $2,400-$3,000 dollars a year!) Clark personally makes around $400 a month renting out his Yellow Mini Convertible, which he told me is a lot of fun on sunny San Francisco days.

Renters who take part in RelayRides reap benefits as well. “Car sharing is a more attractive alternative to car ownership,” said Clark.  On average a person can save $500 a month not owning a car and taking part in car sharing.  “It is really convenient and affordable.  The car is located right in your neighborhood,” said Clark.

The personal car sharing concept might be hard for some people to understand.  When Clark initially pitched the idea to friends he faced a bit of resistance. “People were polite and raised their eyebrows, “So you want a stranger to drive my car?”  Clark emphasized the difference in opinion now, “The typical reaction I get from people now when I tell them about RelayRides for the first time is, “Huh, that makes a lot of sense!”

RelayRides currently has 200 cars in the two city fleet and 6000 members. By launching this innovative service nationwide, Clark expects these numbers to grow significantly. “We have learned a lot over the past two years of operation. We feel ready to bring this to the masses,” he told me.

There is a lot of room for growth.  According to Clark there are only about 1 million car-sharing members in North America. With 260 million cars on the road, that equals around 1.2 cars per person in the US.  Shelby thinks this is incredibly wasteful.  He believes that personal car sharing is an ideal solution.  Besides, most cars are only used about 8% percent of the time; the rest of the time they are just parked.

RelayRides is covered by a $1 million insurance policy and market-leading security safeguards.  It is backed by over $13M in venture capital funding from leading investors, such as Google Ventures and GM Ventures.

What impressed me while talking with Clark was not only his enthusiasm, optimism, and drive to make car sharing a viable option for everyone, but his attitude toward the competition. I thought other car sharing services might be unnerved by the news of RelayRides going national. However, Clark sees car sharing companies as being in this together, working for the greater good. He feels there is room for more than one company and that collaboration could be helpful to everyone.

This is a “big step forward for car sharing,” Clark told me. I think it certainly is and the future looks bright for RelayRides.

3 Ways to Find a Good Mechanic

Going into the New Year, I'm sure many of you have New Year's Resolutions. Maybe goals like, losing weight, volunteering more, getting your house cleaned up, making more money, etc. How about the New Year's Resolution… Keep your car in good running condition. The best way to do that is to have a good mechanic to service your car.

There are several ways to find a good mechanic to service your vehicle. Here are 3 ways to find a Good Mechanic:

  1. Ask a Mechanic: Seems obvious. If you know a DIY or Shadetree mechanic ask them if they know of any good shops in the area. Even if they like working on their own vehicles, they'll have to go to a shop for some work. (Such as installing tires, alignments) More importantly than knowing what is a good shop, they'll probably know what the bad shops in the area are. Also if you have a specific brand of car, they might know a good shop to take your specific brand of car. Many shops specialize in certain brands of cars.
  2. Friends, Family, Neighbors: Asking people you know is always a good idea. Maybe they have a friend who is a mechanic. Maybe a neighbor has a great mechanic they've been going to for years. Word-of-Mouth is still a good way to find a mechanic. Ask around and see if you can find good shop or mechanic from someone who's opinion your trust.
  3. Internet: I would suggest checking online lastly. he internet is a great tool. However, I would be careful. I've seen several shops with great online reviews, but I know the service they provide is less than adequate. If you don't have anyone to ask or have come up with no good shops from people you know, you'll probably turn to looking at online reviews. The best website with auto shop reviews is the CarTalk Mechanic's Files. It's been around the longest and has the most extensive database of reviewed shops