By on July 17, 2012

Need some extra money? Want to work from home? Easy: Sell her to perfect strangers, by the hour. You will receive assistance in pimping her as long as she’s an OnStar-equipped Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, or Cadillac.  

According to a GM release, GM OnStar subscribers can now rent out their idle vehicles through the RelayRides marketplace, and “potentially earn hundreds of dollars a month to offset the cost of owning a vehicle.”

You don’t even need to see the john renter face to face, because “renters can unlock reserved OnStar-enabled cars simply by using their smart phones” says the press release.

Scary:

“Through OnStar’s proprietary API, RelayRides developers were given access to key vehicle-centric features such as location and remote door lock and unlock. This means renters can unlock the doors with their smart phone or by replying to a text message.”

I’d rather sell my soul for a few hundred bucks.

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56 Comments on “Pimp Your Ride. Or: OnStar Allows Perfect Strangers To Open Your Car With Their Cell Phones...”


  • avatar
    dejal1

    So they can lock and unlock a car.

    How about the steering column and turning the car on and off? Does Onstar do that to?

    • 0 avatar
      Chicago Dude

      Yes, it can and has been able to do so since the 1990s.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Awesome!

        My 16 year old nephew who is full of piss and vinegar has been begging me to teach him to drive a stick shift for the longest time.

        I’ll be looking for one of these rent-able GM vehicles on a day when I have the time to teach Johnny the nuances of heel-toe shifting in a large, smooth, vacant asphalt lot somewhere, at the end of the day, leaving the pungent odor of burnt clutch hanging heavily in the air.

        Oh, and little Johnny is a baseball phenom, already being scouted by college recruiters, and he won’t go anywhere or do anything without his ‘chew’ (which I frown upon, but hey, I’m his uncle, not his parent).

  • avatar
    Ex Radio Operator

    I think the word for this is “insane”.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    This is a marketing campaign that will be met with roaring silence.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    It’s so wrong that GM doesn’t see how this is so wrong.

  • avatar
    "scarey"

    Unbelievable. Does Onstar also track your car down after the perp…er…renter fails to bring his new…er…I mean your car back ? I mean after the new owner has ripped out the onstar crap from his new car ?
    Way to go, GM !

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      What On-Star can do, only GM knows. Disabling or removing the On-Star gear or disconnecting its power immobilizes the car. It is a built-in theft deterrent. But not a chop-shop deterrent.

      Most thieves have learned that taking an On-Star equipped GM vehicle to an RF-shielded location like an all-metal or concrete building is the only way to chop it up. Some of the more ingenious ones do their chopping in a steel SEA-LAND shipping container, while on the move.

      One of my sons was a state cop for 20+ years, mostly working the highways and byways. His collection of pictures he took at such a bust is worth a million words.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        It seems bizarre that OnStar GMs can be so easily stolen. OnStar will notify you that your car has been stolen by text, phone, e-mail and probably twitter, but it can’t immobilize it in the 1st frackin’ place?

        Steering columns that don’t lock? What kind of scam are they running? A cheap swapmeet alarm can immobilize any car.

        I understand that cops want to catch GTA perps red handed so aren’t OnStar GMs really just ‘bait cars’ at the owner’s expense? Then doesn’t GM win everytime a GM is stolen?

        Scam plain and simple.

      • 0 avatar
        Chicago Dude

        “OnStar will notify you that your car has been stolen by text, phone, e-mail and probably twitter, but it can’t immobilize it in the 1st frackin’ place?”

        Once the car is moving, there is a lot of liability involved if you turn it off or lock the steering column.

        OnStar can keep in touch with local police and if an officer tells them it is safe to disable the car they can do so. No officer in his right mind is going to do that unless the road has been cleared or the car is in a parking lot.

      • 0 avatar
        MeaCulpa

        You don’t need a RF shielded location, for a cool C-note (wow, I’m a regular Diablo Cody) you can pick up a GPS/GSM/CDMA/DCS/WiFi/what-not jammer, place it on the dash and drive your new car anywhere and start chop-shop-chopping away.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Sounds like a good lawsuit in the making if an OnStar operator sat around with his thumb up his tush while monitoring a stolen car heading for a high population density area where it ultimately was involved in a high speed car crash that harmed several bystanders rather than shutting it down the first time its speed dropped below 15 mph just so GM could sell a replacement car.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        @Chicago Dude – I’m talking “immobilizer” as in immobilizes before it ever has a chance to become ‘mobile’. Isn’t that what immobilizers do?

        Also an RF engine kill couldn’t physically lock your steering columns even if it was lockable.

        I know only cops can shut down your OnStar GM at a safe moment, but no one can shut down anything until it has been reported stolen by the owner. Most of the time, I don’t listen for my phone. Especially not while I sleep. Then you’ll have to haul yourself down to HQs or wait for an officer to come by. Code Three, l’ll bet ;)

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Yeah, the legal ramifications of On-Star shutting down an engine or preventing a car from being stolen on their own volition is just too broad a pursuit to go into in this discussion.

        Since you can’t just hot-wire an On-Star vehicle, you have no way of knowing if the guy in the tow truck is legally repossessing that vehicle or if he’s a thief looking to stock up on high-demand parts.

        You actually have to crack open the steering column and manually turn the tumblers on the ignition keylock to start it. That’s why so many rental cars (like Caddies) have one of those steel column protectors riveted around the ignition switch.

        Of course, if GM was up-to-date they would have a keyless system like so many other manufacturers use. Without the Dongle or the Fob there’s no way to start that vehicle. Our Grand Cherokee has that system, and it is sweet.

        And if the owner doesn’t know that the vehicle was stolen until hours later…. I remember a Lexus LS that was chop-shopped in less than 15 minutes after being winched onto a flatbed and hauled off.

        They didn’t finesse the job on the LS, they hoisted it up with a ceiling crane in the shop, took a torch to it, cut the body loose from the drive train and chopped away. The parts were headed in different directions in less than 15 minutes. Who worries about immobilizing the car? It’s in pieces.

        And one time, while at Red Lobster in El Paso, a friend of mine had his brand new GMC Conversion Van stolen (with the alarm and immobilizer set) and it was in Mexico in less than 10 minutes. Try getting that thing back out of Mexico. It ain’t gonna happen.

        The best the cops figured it, the thieves broke the driver-side window, opened the door, popped the hood, cut a battery cable, and winched the whole Van onto a flatbed, and hauled it off to Mexico. All my friend had to show for it was the broken glass in the parking lot. Ironically, another patron had already parked their vehicle where the Van had been parked.

        No, GM has to be very careful how they go about unleashing On-Star. There are lawyers out there just salivating, waiting for a case against GM for improper On-Star actions, to make them instant millionaires.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        It had better take a flatbed to steal my modern day, super hi tech $70K rig and not just a big dumb screw driver. Sheesh. Escalades, Silverados and such are begging to get stolen and GM knows it… and loves it.

        I’m sure tow trucks do get used, but generally stolen vehicles are driven off or pushed. Not having a deadly immobilizer or steering/shifter lock on mega dollar rig is just too tempting. Heck, it makes stealing it with a tow truck 10X easier. In1965 it was excusable, but wth?

        Even a shady towing co. won’t take to GTAs. Chop shops don’t pay enough and too many under age gang bangers will do the deed (and take most of the risk) for a couple 100, regardless of what car it is.

        Even so, park with the wheels turned sharp as an extra tow truck deterrent, if it gives you extra POM.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    The same exec that pitched this program also pitched Jaws 4.

  • avatar

    I agree, I would rather sell my soul for money than have people I don’t know driving my car around. FORGET THAT! I can see people doing drug runs with your car!

  • avatar
    Sinistermisterman

    *slow claps*
    Really? Whichever dummkopf in the RenCen came up with this idea deserves to have his car ‘rented’ for a day or two by Mr Slobby McChickengrease and his obese family of grease ingesting, drive-thru addicted, garbage monkeys. Then he will wish he NEVER came up with such a dumb ass idea.

    • 0 avatar
      Chicago Dude

      I love it.

      When a Silicon Valley startup gets more than $14 million in venture capital to do exactly the same thing, it is applauded as “disrupting” the industry and everyone in California pats themselves on the back.

      When old monolithic Detroit says “we’ve had your fancy-pants technology for decades”, all of the sudden it’s a terrible idea that only an idiot would think is worthwhile.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        I had the exact same thought.

        GetAround.com has been doing this for years:

        http://www.getaround.com/

        No one thought it up, they followed silicon valley.

        With GetAround.com you can borrow a dude’s Tesla roadster in Austin, Texas for $50 a hour.

        GetAround has 42 investors, and an advisory board of five people. Idiots who invested in this, ehem, bad idea include Michael Arrington, Matt Mullenweg, David Sacks, and Farhad Mohit. A virtual whos-who of tech including CrunchFund, Morado Venture Partners, the founder of Yammer, COO of PayPal, and the founder of Shopzillia.

        Yup – dumb guys – all of them.

        I’m going back to eating my popcorn.

      • 0 avatar
        Sinistermisterman

        Well I am blown away. I had no idea that something like getaround.com existed. People really let random strangers use their cars? Perhaps I’ve just grown up in some sh*tty parts of the world, but I just wouldn’t trust some stranger – no matter how well ‘vetted’ they are with the keys to my car.
        I guess if I still owned my old raggedy-ass Ford Escort, I wouldn’t have quite so many objections. But I still regard my car as, well, a part of me. Perhaps I’m just silly or a bit selfish, but I’m not so willing to share some things, even for money.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        +1

        Not to mention that this could replace the motel-by-the-hour business model.

        “Hey, who left these used condoms in the back of my new Acadia?!!!!”

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    They must just be out of touch because everyone is so wonderful and filled with consideration for their fellow man in Detroit.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    Perhaps the executives had experience with “crack rentals”?

  • avatar
    SunnyvaleCA

    This technology could have some utility in allowing friends (or you) to use the vehicle in an unexpected situation. Suppose you commuted to work using alternate means and then remembered you left the vehicle parked on the street during a street-cleaning day. Rather than suffer a $50 ticket, you could call your neighbor and ask them to move the vehicle without them having to break into your house and find your spare car key.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    RelayRides has solved one part of ZipCar’s business model… raising capital to buy the cars.

    I can certainly see some problems with this and reaction seems generally unfavorable but… what the heck? When I’m not using the car, why not raise some revenue with it?

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      GetAround.com does peer-to-peer rentals also. RelayRides isn’t the only game in town. This is actually a pretty established business model.

      See, where people are turning up their noses, they are enthusiasts. They actually CARE about their car. 98% of the US population couldn’t care less. They’re already drinking coffee and sucking down a grease ball cheeseburger while driving, and the backseat smells of stale milk and kid buggers. The trunk has six months of debris in it. That’s the average car – and that person really doesn’t care – and would rather see some cash renting out the car than having it sit there.

      I sure as Hell wouldn’t do it – but the people posting in the negative really are not grasping how the upcoming generation views car ownership.

      • 0 avatar
        dejal1

        So, I go to the Getaround web site. While I don’t live in the areas that they support, why can’t I see what is available in those areas? Maybe I’m going on a business or vacation trip. It looks like you have to sign up to find out using Facebook.

        I went to RelayRides and they pop up a map showing cars within 50-60 miles of me from the get go.

        If first impressions mean anything, I’d say RelayRides wins. What’s the point of signing up just to find out there is nothing there for you?

        Maybe Mr. Lang ought to hook up with one of these folks and establish a foothold in Georgia.

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        APA, my apologies. I glanced at the Getaround website and it makes sense. I wish they showed cars in more places than the Bay Area but that’s a marketing thing. Lots of real world cars I’d rent just to see if I liked them. I smoke, so my vehicle would appeal to about three people. Sometimes people need slapped with the open palm of knowledge.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      Zipcars and any other rental cars are owned by a corporation. Ergo, I don’t care if they’re returned thrashed and trashed.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Getaround is not ZipCar or rental car. It’s peer-to-peer, it has a sea of major investors including Michael Arrington, Matt Mullenweg, David Sacks, and Farhad Mohit. A virtual whos-who of tech including CrunchFund, Morado Venture Partners, the founder of Yammer, COO of PayPal, and the founder of Shopzillia.

        These aren’t dumb guys.

        If I lived in Austin I would already be signing up to get my hands on a Tesla roadster. $100 for a two-hour peer-to-peer rental of a Tesla Roaster?

        SA-WEET!

        Again – you are not grasping how the upcoming generation views car ownership.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        Except a “peer rental” vehicle isn’t going to be a Tesla.

        I figure the ideal car for this is an Impala. Or a used police car.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        *sigh*

        You can peer-to-peer rent one through GetAround right now.

        http://www.getaround.com/tesla

        There are some shockingly nice cars you can rent peer-to-peer on GetAround.

        Again, to beat a dead horse senseless. There are five P’s to Product Management (some will argue four):

        1) Product
        2) Persona
        3) Positioning
        4) Price
        5) Packaging

        You’re not understanding persona because the persona is not you – hence you go, “who would peer-to-peer rent a Tesla?!?”

        Well – someone is, and there are 40 reviews of the renter too.

        This isn’t some dumb idea just cooked up. Peer-to-peer auto rental (not corporate) has been around for years already and there are two large companies doing it (and smaller start ups popping up).

        Again, I would NEVER, EVER, hand the keys to my G8 GT to someone to make $15 an hour. But I’m of a different generation who does not view my car as an appliance that gets me from point A to point B. I care about coffee stains, I’m paranoid about door dings, and I certainly don’t want some idiot hooning 394 HP when I’m on the hook for the brakes and the tires.

        But – that’s me – and my generation. Many in Gen Y don’t even think this way. They’re growing up in a world where to many of them a driver’s license is a necessary evil. Own a car? Shoot they can’t find a job and are buried in student loan debt. Under 25? Good luck renting at Avis without leaving body parts at the counter. Suddenly peer-to-peer to that demographic, that persona, looks attractive.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        Hypnotoad: (Sorry, it’s your avatar. I can’t type out your screen name, it’s too random)

        I have a 19 year old who has a car waiting for her to drive. We have insurance arranged the car is old, but solid. READY TO GO…

        She commutes to both jobs by bicycle. Or shares/bums rides from friends & family. She grew up in a family of motorheads on both sides of the family tree, lives in the motorhead culture.

        No interest in owning a car.

        Sound like a person who would be interested in a service like this? You bet.

  • avatar
    threeer

    Dumb…meet dumber! Recoup revenue? Sure…when somebody rents your car and completely trashes it (I’m not even thinking as in a crash…) and you have to spend several hundred dollars to clean it up, then we’ll see how well revenues are raised. I’d pass on this offer. There are way too many “what if” scenarios to make this plausible. If you need to rent a car…there are plenty of sources for that. If you need revenue to cover the cost of your car…perhaps you shouldn’t have bought the car to begin with.

  • avatar
    Darkhorse

    The GetAround website says they insure your car for the time it serves as a rental. RelayRides probably does the same. I think this makes some sense. Look out your office window at the employee parking lot sometime. Millions of dollars of cars sitting idle for 8-12 hours a day.

    • 0 avatar
      threeer

      Great. So it’s insured. Say the idiot who rents it wrecks out your car. Now you’re out of a ride for a period of time, have to deal with the hassle of the insurance paperjam, renting another car to cover for the time being, etc…great. Again. I’ll pass. The few dollars you MIGHT make from this simply don’t outweigh the potential “oh, craps!”

    • 0 avatar
      WildcatMatt

      The insurance offered by the company handing the rental agreement is pretty much a requirement.

      Many (if not most) personal auto policies specifically exclude coverage for any kind of vehicle-for-hire scenarios — including this one.

  • avatar
    espressoBMW

    These ideas will likely catch-on? People rent out their houses to strangers via VRBO.com and other similar sites. Cars could work too. Especially if the renters and owners were scored with a reputation like on ebay. You could deny rents to low-ranking prospects. Anyone could be their own rental car company. Rent nice cars to people with a good reputation and rent clunkers to losers.

    Like others have suggested, the majority have a different perspective.

  • avatar
    FJ60LandCruiser

    It can work, if you can pre-screen customers and there is a scoring system in place.

    Although rental vehicles undergo extreme abuse, last rental I drove was an Impala with 10k miles. It looked worse than my farm truck after 50k.

  • avatar
    MrWhopee

    How long will Onstar will allow you to rent out your wife by the hour too? Maybe the customers can unlock her chastity belt with a phone too.

    The current idea is about as loathsome to me as that.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    This was dumb when it was just an idea.

    It’s idiotic that they even implemented it.

    There would seem to be liabilities created for every party…

    This is a far cry from fractional ownership of a G4, and last time I heard, not even Net Jets, with it’s well-heeled clientele, was making any money…

  • avatar
    doctor olds

    This idea is being tried by other manufacturers. Time will tell if there is enough interest for consumers to subscribe to the voluntary relay ride program.

    On-star currently has the ability to track a stolen vehicle and to bring it to a stop.

  • avatar
    BrianL

    Why take the shot at GM and OnStar when there are other companies that have this model? For some people, it can raise serious money by allowing a car to be rented when it isn’t in use. I can see this as very useful for people in large metropolitan areas where owning a car would be a burden, but occasionally renting one would be a good idea. If someone can own a car, but doesn’t use it often, this could pay for the parking of the car, maintenance, and possibly have some other money left over.

    Or you could just fearmonger about OnStar and access to a vehicle.

  • avatar
    redliner

    OH MY GOD!

    There are so many issues here I don’t even know where to begin. Besides issues like abuse, lack of respect for others personal property, no way of know how clean the car/renter is, etc. What happens if you get busted for having drugs in the car, but they aren’t yours? What happens when someone runs a red light and gets an automated ticket? What happens when negligent maintenance causes a crash? How do you deal with people who bring the car back with less fuel than it had before?

    What happens when someone is late returning a rental? With a rental company, you just get charged a late fee, but in someones personal vehicle, they may not have a way to get to work.

    The only person who drives my car is me. I know all it’s quirks, I have everything set the way i like it, and I park far away from other to prevent dings and parking lot rash. Even close family members like mom/dad/girlfriend/boyfriend have to ask permission, and give a valid reason. Just because “i want too” is not a valid reason.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    I think the average person first thinks OMG I can’t see letting somebody rent my new Vette/Escalade/Camaro.

    But the reality is these will far more likely be 7 yr old Cobalts and 10 yr old Impalas.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Nope – sorry, go check out GetAround.com and be ready for a surprise.

      How about a Tesla Roadster for $50 an hour or $500 for the full day, that includes full, errr, batteries.

  • avatar
    "scarey"

    As Mr.Barnum was wont to say, “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

  • avatar
    dvdlgh

    Seems like an extremely limited market. 50 bucks/hr vs $50/day at any of the car rental joints. I know it’s more for a premium vehicle but you get my point-extremely limited market.

  • avatar
    Type57SC

    While this takes some faith in humanity for those who own their car, those who lease might be much more willing to rent out their car if they aren’t facing the cost of the pre-mature aging that might take place on their vehicle.

    Considering that it doesn’t sound like there is much investment on GM’s part, this looks like a great idea from them to include the functionality. It will probably help people’s perception of GM too. Looking at Getaround.com, 28 of the 30 cars shown are imports, and the 2 domestics are a Saab and a Tesla. GM’s smart to seed these types of conquest buyers and users if they believe in the quality of the vehicles they are producing.

    Thumbs up!

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Kluttz

      GM and SMART cannot be used in the same phrase. And yes, GM is the only one who believes they build quality cars, except those idiots who buy them and find out the hard way. But then there are those reeeally idiotic idiots who keep going back after being kicked in the nuts repeatedly and STILL think they have a good car.

  • avatar
    Kevin Kluttz

    Wow! This is a great idea! What’s the problem with losing a GM car anyway? GM is doing you a favor. Let someone else have your problems. Maybe the steering wheel will fall off in their lap instead of yours. Or maybe, since there are no brake pads in the front, they won’t get stopped for a train instead of you. Then you can file it on your insurance and go get a real car. But you probably don’t deserve one, since you wanted a GM POS in the first place.


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