RelayRides raises $10M to expand service, attract members

The San Francisco-based car-sharing start-up plans to use its new investments to expand its service area and attract more members.

RelayRides announced that it raised $10 million in series A.2 financing. The peer-to-peer car-sharing start-up raised $5.1 million earlier this year, and the injection of cash will be used to expand its service area and attract more members.

The car-sharing network started in Cambridge, Mass., but moved its headquarters to San Francisco. Rentals at RelayRides start at $5 per hour, and include gas and insurance. Borrowers go through a driving-record check before being allowed to rent a vehicle, and owners outfit their vehicles with an immobilizer that enables renters to unlock their car without a physical key exchange. Like its competitor ZipCar, a set of keys are in the vehicle's cabin, but the car will only start if there is a reservation and the vehicle has been unlocked using a member access card. Each borrower carries a $1 million insurance policy in the event of an accident.

RelayRides is backed by Google Ventures, but it is particularly excited about the $1 million investment by startup veteran Lisa Gansky. A spokesman for RelayRides says that Gansky's investment is a vote of confidence by one of the arbiters of the sharing economy. The company is hoping to increase its membership base, which consists of 2,000 members and about 100 car owners. At present, the service is only available in Cambridge and San Francisco, but RelayRides would like to expand the service area to the Boston suburbs and throughout the Bay Area.

The biggest difference between RelayRides and its direct competitor Getaround is that RelayRides lets car owners keep 65 percent of the rental fees, compared with 60 percent at Getaround. However, Getaround has an iPhone app that members can use to book reservations on the fly and unlock their reserved vehicle. Hopefully RelayRides will remedy that shortcoming with its bigger budget.

One of the best parts of its service is that if you return the vehicle earlier than you've scheduled, half the cost of the remaining time is credited to your account. However, an app would make obtaining that credit a lot easier and faster.

 

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