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.