RelayRides diagram

At CES 2012, GM was showing off their remote control and monitoring Android app, but I would say their more interesting announcement from the show was a new OnStar API, which will enable outside developers to start plugging into their connected electric car. To showcase the new capabilities, GM partnered up with the guys at RelayRides, which is basically Airbnb for cars. Using the mobile app, you will be able to post your vehicle as available for rent within certain dates, and if it's with a Chevrolet Volt, the car will only begin functioning in the specified timeframe. Once a rental time kicks in, customers can use the app to find the Volt via GPS, and remotely unlock the car to grab the keys inside. Even if you don't have a smartphone, you'll be able to unlock the car via text message. From the renter's side, you can search based on vehicle type, proximity, timeframe, price, and all of the other usual criteria. Rental rates can go as low as $5 to $6, which includes a million-dollar insurance policy. 

This is pretty big news because so far, the only other car manufacturer seriously wooing app developers has been Ford, and they've been doing it for some time now with AppLink. They haven't been able to crank out a ton of apps since AppLink has come out, but RelayRides was apparently wrapped up in under a month. Of course, they made their app specifically for the OnStar API, so they might have been able to get it up a bit quicker than others will be able to, but it's a promising start.

The OnStar API will be available for Android and iOS starting in the first half of this year, but if you're interested in getting involved sooner than later, you can pitch your app idea to

Source: OnStar


Reader comments

OnStar API kicks off with ridesharing app


Maybe Onstar should be concentrating on compatibility for all their Onstar equipped vehicles instead and not just the super expensive or super new.

And just how are they going to retrofit those old cars? The newer cars are the only ones that have the features that enable these sort of interactions.

I meant the Standard Onstar app that can control certain thing in the vehicle I've already heard from a rep that they can do it but won't.

This app was written by RelayRides. They didn't interfere with OnStar's development efforts. So, OnStar adding some feature or not has nothing to do with what RelayRides is trying to do.
And I wouldn't take some rep's word on what is easy to do for the OnStar engineers. Those features work on the Volt because they were designed in. I think several other higher-end 2011/2012 GM vehicles also have those features. Give it a few years and I'm sure every new GM vehicle will have all the OnStar capabilities.

Improve upon the rear view mirror on star retrofit?
Onstar wanted to retrofit my ford with it, but I said why pay 30.00 a month when for the same price my wife is getting all that and more in her buick enclave?

What the hell is airbnb? This has to be the the most idiotic "project" I've ever seen. Talk about grasping at straws. What's the point? Who needs this and why? Are tree huggers going to randomly rent out their cars? This is the funniest crock of sh*t I've ever read. AC, keep up the great reporting.

Airbnb is the most awesome invention ever. Check it out at

Ridesharing programs have been around for a while now. They are not a crock of anything, rather a great way for people in large cities (like San Francisco) to get a car for a couple hours and not have to worry about paying for a place to park your car at night.

For people who want to make some extra bucks here and there, you can specify the exact dates and times that your vehicle will be available for rent.

And back to Airbnb, my cousin and I ALMOST stayed in Jim Morrison's last known US address in LA as a result of Airbnb.

Really? You need to stop watching so much Fox "news".
But if it's so overpriced, doesn't that make this idea all the more attractive?? It gives the owner a way to supplement his car payment and gives the carless people a chance to drive a EREV that they wouldn't normally be able to afford.

FYI, I might consider renting/sharing my Volt with this program. I don't use my full electric range most days.

I understand the point of the app, but the Volt is a collosal mistake, even by GM's own admission. I agree that yes it does make it a nice way to supplement a car payment. Hey I have a GM model too, and onstar for it is great.
As a volt owner, you don't think the car is overpriced by 15,000 or so? To make that back would take you how long? This would no doubt help, but so would

Good call on Fox btw...but I read about the issues on msbc

Way off-topic, but WTF are you talking about? GM has never said that the Volt was a mistake (let alone a colossal one). They are already working on the 2nd and 3rd generations of the Volt, as well as other vehicles based on the Voltec propulsion system.

No, I don't think the Volt is overpriced. It's a luxury car, not some econobox. The only other EREV on the market costs over twice as much.
Obviously the price will come down as economies of scale kick in and then more people will be able to afford it. But don't knock the car just because you can't afford it.

Drewwalton, thanks for the info. This makes a lot of sense now. Looks like a win, win situation for all parties involved. By the way, airbnb looks awesome. I hope I can try it out sometime. Thanks again for the info!

Drewwalton, thanks for the info. This makes a lot of sense now. Looks like a win, win situation for all parties involved. By the way, airbnb looks awesome. I hope I can try it out sometime. Thanks again for the info!

Do you really like the idea that somebody will have access to your car electronics wireless ?
As for me, this message reads "Stay away from cars with OnStar!".