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Car-sharing rental service opens an LAX pickup-dropoff spot

Car-sharing rental service opens an LAX pickup-dropoff spot
A customer drops off his car to RelayRides, a car-rental sharing service that is opening a pickup/dropoff lot for cars about two miles from LAX. (RelayRides)

Your idle car + LAX = making money? That's the newest equation in the Southland from RelayRides, which is introducing a service that puts your car to work for you while you're gone.

Here's how it works: Let's say you're going to be gone on a trip for two weeks. You turn your car over to RelayRides Valet at a lot near Los Angeles International Airport. It matches renters with your model. They use your car and return it before you get back, and you make some money.

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It's one of the newer wrinkles in the peer-to-peer marketplace. The sharing economy, or collaborative consumption, lets owners make better use of their resources by letting others use whatever they are not, be it an extra bedroom (AirBnB is the 800-pound gorilla in that rental market), office space or car-sharing services.

Those car services may be as diverse as Uber and Lyft, which essentially allow private drivers to pick you up and drop you off in taxi-like fashion, and RelayRides.

I became familiar with RelayRides on a summer trip to Denver. I needed a rental car, but taxes and fees at the Denver airport pushed the cost way up. Instead, I rented from a private party, who let me use her 2006 Toyota Corolla. It wasn't the most stylish car I'd ever driven, but with an average savings of $15 a day, I wasn't unhappy with the well-loved Toyota.

The only hitch: The owner met me at the airport and took me her to place, where I picked up the car. At the end of my visit, I returned the car to her and she took me to the airport. It was about a 30-mile trip each way, she charged me $60 round-trip.

But with this new LAX service by RelayRides Valet, you can pick up your car minutes from the airport. Or, if you’re going out of town, you can drop it off to be rented. (The address is 400 Continental Blvd., El Segundo, about two miles from LAX.)

Customers who rent a car this way should save money, the company says. “On average, across the board, our rates are 35% cheaper than traditional rental cars,” said Andre Haddad, chief executive of the company. “If you need a minivan or sports car, the difference in price can be even more dramatic.”

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FOR THE RECORD

Nov. 12, 2014, 10:15 a.m.: In an earlier version of this post, RelayRides Chief Executive Andre Haddad's first name was misspelled as Andred.

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Not surprisingly, visitors to Los Angeles also have an appetite for exotic cars, which RelayRides can help satisfy, since exotics aren't exactly in short supply.

If you're renting out your car, whether it's a Porsche or Prius, you might worry about your baby. But RelayRides has you covered. Drivers are vetted well ahead of the rental experience and are covered by a $1-million insurance policy, the company says.

In fact, Haddad is so confident that his car will be OK that he rents out his own Porsche (but you'll have to go to the Bay Area for that).

Info: RelayRides (there's also a mobile app).

Follow us on Twitter at @latimestravel

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