Let Complete Strangers Drive Your Car For Cash, Thanks To OnStar

By Blake Z. Rong | July 17, 2012
Ever wanted to turn your expensive vehicular purchase into a rolling taxi for strangers? Fancy turning your car into a timeshare? Do you love the romantic notion of cleaning Wendy's fries out of the center console? Are you tired of personal space and your radio station presets? Want cold, hard cash? Then step right up, chum, because boy does OnStar have a deal for you! If your car is idling somewhere (though hopefully not for longer than 5 minutes, as pursuant to California Code of Regulations Section 2480, title 13), OnStar has partnered with car-sharing program RelayRides to allow owners of fine GM products to rent out their car, seedy motel style, for a few hours—to not just complete strangers, it seems, but to anybody walking by with a smartphone. But through the relentless quest for convenience-induced technology, OnStar has taken the program and run with it Yes, OnStar's RelayRides app for iPhone and Android can reserve a car that's not being used from its owner for about of car-sharing, popular in burghs like San Francisco and Boston where ZipCars dominate the freeways and its drivers are too trendy and urbane to actually own the cars they're driving. If a car has been reserved, app users can remotely unlock a Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, or Cadillac with their phone, which is the sort of thing that not even Hanna and/or Barbera could have ever thought. Perfect for those who hate human interaction with their transactions: the owner never even needs to meet the renter in this setup!
The system runs on OnStar's Advanced Telematics Operating Management System, or ATOMS. It's a cloud platform found among 6 million OnStar-owning drivers, with the option to buy and install OnStar on their own cars. The app's proprietary API makes available more cars to renters than RelayRides could have ever mustered on its own. And apparently, owners will be paid for their compensation. They can "potentially earn hundreds of dollars a month to offset the cost of owning a vehicle," says GM. Rates are determined through RelayRides themselves, and set among the owners and whims of a free market, ensuing that owners of 1988 Corollas won't charge limo-escort rates for their hoopties. "Our exclusive relationship with RelayRides provides an exciting new choice," says Nick Pudar, the vice president of OnStar Strategy and New Business Development, "the first automobiles to run on collaborative consumption." Never mind the spilled Cheetos, potential for destructive driving—writer and bon vivant PJ O'Rourke once said that nothing handles better than a rental car—and opportunity for miscreant hacker nerds to break into your Cadillac, using anything from text messages to MP3 files to a well-placed elbow to, yes, OnStar itself. RelayRides comes with a $1 million insurance policy for owners and $300,000 for renters, which is fortunate because the Corvette ZR1 only tops out at $131,115, including the $5,000 custom VIN ending, which has got to be the best deal in the automotive kingdom. But hey. If you've ever wanted to knock over that liquor store, now's the best time to secure that getaway car. Source: GM