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We’ve already told you about the ability to use the Internet to find nearby lodging (Airbnb); pet sitters (DogVacay and and sports tickets and other goods (Zaarly). Now, residents in Washington state — due in part to changes in insurance laws instituted by the legislature earlier this month — will be able to easily rent their SUVs, trucks, vans, sedans and other vehicles to friends or, even, strangers.

KUOW 94.9 FM reports that a number of these new breed of “peer-to-peer carsharing” businesses are arriving in the state to take advantage of the rule changes.

RelayRides, a San Francisco company that scored $13 million in funding from General Motors, Google Ventures, August Capital and others last fall, now allows residents to rent their cars out by the hour or the day. Those looking for a vehicle can sort by vehicle type, or by amenities such as pet friendly, bike racks, hybrids or all-wheel drive. Rates range from $6 per hour to $20 per hour (for Andre’s Porsche).

In my search this morning, most of the vehicles I found on RelayRides were located in the San Francisco Bay Area. (Not too convenient for those of us in the Northwest. There was one car in Portland, however).

RelayRides says that it can save consumers money on traditional car rentals, while individuals can earn up to $7,000 per year by renting out their vehicles. Those who rent can rate the vehicles, offering feedback to the owners or future drivers. Users access the vehicles by entering a code into a “lockbox” in the car or by getting keys from the owner. Here’s more of how it works.

A number of other companies are looking to attack the opportunity, including Getaround, JustShareIt, JollyWheels and Wheelz.

Wheelz, for example, is focusing on car sharing among college kids. (A ripe market since rental car companies often institute additional fees for those under the age of 25). Wheelz is now Stanford and UC-Berkeley, with plans to expand to USC, UCLA and other campuses. The company — which requires users to sign up via Facebook in order to ensure a level of familiarity with the participant — raised $13.7 million from Zipcar last month.

[Via KUOW 94.9]

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