Maven is an ambitious attempt to take on services like Zipcar, which also offer cars to members on a short-term basis. It’s GM’s third big announcement so far in 2016 on new businesses. It previously invested $500 million in car-hailing service Lyft and bought Sidecar, a failed competitor of Uber and Lyft.
What’s behind all this?
GM sees that for increasing numbers of young, particularly city dwellers, owning a car is a more of a hassle than a necessity, so it has to find new ways to make them customers.
GM President Dan Ammann “Bottom line, we see significant changes afoot in the industry in terms of ownership models and how consumers want to consume car-based mobility. we’re taking very assertive actions as a company to put us at the forefront of that change.”
GM says it invested in Lyft because it believes the first major deployment of autonomous vehicle technology will be in ride-sharing services. Uber is also researching self-driving car technology.
For the consumers GM is trying to reach with Maven, simplicity is key. Like any modern service, it’s based around an app.
The first step it to pick out the type of car you want to use, then choose from local Maven vehicles that match that choice.
The app allows you to remotely start the heater or air conditioner and will unlock the car when you get close.
No keys are involved, so drivers can immediately be on their way.
And cars also support Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. That means the music and other apps in the car can be personalized, so every car rented through Maven will feel a little like it’s yours.
Fuel is included in the price of the usage, but it’s about the only thing that isn’t done fully by app. You’ll still need a card at the pump, it’s in the car. The app does provide the card PIN.
GM has plans to eventually take it global, but for now it’s restricted to Ann Arbor, a town near GM’s headquarters in Michigan. Next targets for expansion are Chicago and New York.
It costs between $6 and $12 per hour, depending on the car.
Competitor Ford is also talking about broadening its business. 2016 could be a busy year for automakers.