The manual transfer of keys would be a major barrier to RelayRides’ growth while its competition like Zipcar and Getaround make it easy for users to independently unlock cars.
With a still small, but growing, market around people that want to rent out their personal cars to their neighbors, some consolidation seemed inevitable. On Tuesday startup RelayRides, which was one of the first companies to jump into the neighborhood car sharing market, announced that it has acquired Wheelz, a startup that had originally focused on building car sharing communities at universities.
RelayRides says it will acquire, among other things, Wheelz’s DriveBox technology, which enables Wheelz users to unlock and drive away in a rented car, without having to meet with the owner and get a key. Picture it basically like one of Zipcar’s unlocking and verification systems.
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Photo credit: A car with the RelayRides magnet in central San Francisco in August 2011. Michael Andersen / Flickr