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The latest car sharing service launched in California in the wake of a recent change in auto insurance law was unveiled this week. RelayRides, which bills itself as "the world's first neighbor-to-neighbor car sharing service," is open for business in the San Francisco area.

The concept is the automotive equivalent of a computerized peer-to-peer network. Owners who sign up for the service register their vehicles for free, set their daily and hourly prices, and simply let the renters come to them. The company says its service allows those who can't afford to buy or lease their own vehicle have access to a car, while providing welcome help to owners looking to defray fuel and auto insurance costs.

One Toyota Prius owner, Caterina Rindi, said there were also environmental upsides to RelayRides.

"Car sharing between neighbors is great for San Francisco, as it will lead to fewer new cars on the road, which will help decrease congestion and pollution. That's why I'm delighted to make my Prius available via RelayRides – it's good for me, for my neighbors and for my city," she said.

RelayRides also launched in Boston earlier this year, the company says, adding the uptake rate among both owners and borrowers has been very high.

It should come as no surprise to learn that one of the most innovative companies in the technology sector – search engine giant Google – is partially behind the new venture. Board member and Google Ventures partner Joe Kraus expressed his excitement at the successful transition of the $12.5 billion global car sharing market to the local level.

"This growth is driven by the fact that car sharing is now a convenient, affordable and sustainable alternative to ownership," Kraus said.

At least two other car sharing services have been launched in San Francisco this year, thanks to a legal change which eliminated the insurance barriers in the way of such ventures.