Introducing Maven, a wholly owned subsidiary that GM says will do for car-sharing what its investment in Lyft is doing for ride-hailing. With more than 25 million customers around the world projected to use some form of shared mobility by 2020, Maven is a key element of GM’s strategy to changing ownership models in the automotive industry.
Detroit-based automakers have been accused of burying their heads in the sand when it comes to changes in the marketplace that would upend their business. The latest announcement from General Motors shows that is no longer the case. General Motors is doing everything it can to prevent itself from being usurped by tech companies like Apple and Google that are making major automotive plays. “GM is at the forefront of redefining the future of personal mobility,” said GM President Dan Ammann.
GM Hopes To Redefine Car Sharing
Ride sharing is when a car owner drives you around. Car sharing is when you share a vehicle with others around you. Maven’s mission is to give customers access to highly personalized, on-demand mobility services. Each vehicle will provide an ownership-like experience with the convenience of car sharing.
The idea behind Maven is relatively straightforward. Maven’s offerings include city, residential, peer-to-peer and campus programs.
In the city, Maven is offering its car-sharing program to more than 100,000 people in Ann Arbor, Mich., initially focusing on serving faculty and students at the University of Michigan. GM vehicles will be available initially at 21 parking spots across the city. Additional city-based programs will launch in major U.S. metropolitan areas later this year.
It’s probably not a coincidence that GM chose to launch Maven at a location directly adjacent to the Mcity autonomous and connected vehicle test facility.
Maven customers will experience seamless smartphone and keyless integration with the vehicle. Maven customers use its app to search for and reserve a vehicle by location or car type and unlock the vehicle with their smartphone. The app also enables remote functions such as starting, heating or cooling and more.
Customers can bring their digital lives into the vehicle through Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, OnStar, SiriusXM radio and 4GLTE wireless. Maven pricing is simple and transparent and includes insurance and fuel.
The Maven team will use innovative ways of connecting personally with customers. Ann Arbor Maven users will have direct access to Maven leadership and core team members via the messaging application WhatsApp to share their experiences, ideas and thoughts with the team as they help shape the Maven service.
In the first quarter of 2016, Maven will launch car-sharing services for Chicago residents in partnership with Magellan Development Group as part of the Residential initiative. Maven is also expanding its existing residential program in New York City (previously called Let’s Drive NYC) with Stonehenge Partners giving users on-demand access to vehicles and preferred parking options. Both programs combined will offer service to more than 5,000 residents.
Maven will consolidate existing global peer-to-peer car sharing initiatives through the CarUnity market place in Germany. Nearly 10,000 users have signed up in Frankfurt and Berlin since mid-2015.
And lastly, Maven will refine and test future commercial offerings currently running on GM campuses in the U.S., Germany and China.
Rates for getting cars through these programs will cost as low as $6/hour. The fleet consists of the four Chevrolet models including the Spark, Volt, Malibu, and Tahoe, allowing users to select the vehicle that best meets their needs on any given day. Rental rates start at $6 per hour for a Volt or Spark to $12 for the Tahoe. There are also daily rates available, in the event you need the car for a while. Insurance and fuel are included in the cost, although you’ll need to pay your own way if you drain the tank mid-trip.
Ammann said, “We’re seeing a shift from traditional petrol-based cars to those powered by alternative energy sources like electricity, and cars that are significantly more connected, even to the point of being able to drive themselves.”
GM Differentiates Maven From Lyft
When asked how Maven and GM’s $500 million investment in Lyft compliment each other, Ammann said, “When we talk about ridesharing we are talking about the business Lyft is in where you are being driven. Car sharing is when you are driving a vehicle on a short-term basis.” GM declined to comment on how much money GM plans to invest in Maven, but said that this was not just a moonshot.
GM Is Late To The Game
Navigant Research’s Carsharing Programs report projects that such services will have 23.4 million members globally by 2024. If true, GM is entering the car sharing market late. Ford has had a longstanding relationship with ZipCar, BMW is behind the DriveNow program, and Daimler provides vehicles to Car2Go.
Where GM might have an advantage over competitors is Maven will take advantage of GM’s longstanding—20-year old—OnStar system. Many of the same features that OnStar subscribers get through the RemoteLink
smartphone app will add to the convenience of using Maven. Using the Maven app, subscribers can reserve and locate available vehicles and remotely start them up to 8 minutes prior to a reservation.
“There will be more change in next five years than the last 50,” Ammann believes. All of GM’s recent announcements are a hedge against their classic business of car ownership declining.