In 2010, a new idea entered the public consciousness. Lots of people have cars that they don’t need too often, while others don’t get cars because renting one is easier. What would happen if those two groups got together? Let someone rent your car, then they’ll have transportation, you’ll get extra money to pay for your car, and everyone walks away happy. That’s the idea behind the startup RelayRides, a company that connects car owners and car renters, and takes care of the insurance to boot.
Share Your Car
The benefits to RelayRides are fairly obvious. If you own a car that you don’t use too often, you can make money from it rather than just having it sit in the driveway all the time. Making sure your car keeps moving keeps it in better repair and keeps your engine in better condition. For renters, the rental prices are cheaper and the cars are often more widely-spread than a car rental lot would be. Cars are reserved online, where you can see the make and model of the car you’ll rent and reserve it by hour, day, or by month. Then the renter just picks it up from the owner, uses it as they need to, then returns it when they’re done.
It’s a simple idea, and if it works out well, could become a popular and even lucrative business.
The Trouble with Renting
Of course, RelayRides does have its flaws and hitches. For example, the website makes their money by charging a 40% commission fee. This makes more sense when you realize that a large chunk of that goes to insuring a wide range of drivers. In addition, the service is limited. You need renters and people willing to rent out their car in a fairly close proximity, so the service is, for the most part, limited to cities.
And, in this business as in others, there is a certain amount of caveat emptor, as you are renting someone else’s car. For the most part, the more expensive cars are nicer, of course, but if you’re looking for something cheap, the car itself may be cheap. People have had trouble with the customer service, as well, and the cars may not always be where they’re expected to be.
All in all, RelayRides is a novel new idea that has the potential to grow and be a great thing for car sharing, but the business does still have a few kinks that need to be worked out.