Driving around Manhattan can be a harrowing experience, and finding a place to park your car can be difficult. Even the kinds of long-term or overnight parking that the rest of us so often take for granted can be extremely expensive in the Big Apple – all of these challenges have a vast majority of New Yorkers taking a cab or a subway train most of the places they want to go. But now, some mid-Manhattanites can count on a car when they need it most, thanks to a new GM program called “Let’s Drive NYC.”
These are the days of Uber and Lyft – of entrepreneurs and innovators looking for ways to bring efficiency to a disordered system of personal cars being driven, parked, maintained and managed individually. By its nature, it’s a disordered, chaotic proposition, and that’s one reason why these bold new car-sharing programs are so exciting to people. Programs like Let’s Drive NYC bring “data clarity” to the process of ride-sharing, for truly impressive results.
The Let’s Drive NYC program is a partnership between GM and Stonehenge, a company managing the Ritz Plaza at Times Square. This 479-unit property is located in central Manhattan, just a stone’s throw from the Lincoln Tunnel. Now, its residents can reserve a car, get parking, and generally arrange personal transport options, all from a mobile app.
Residents in this pilot program get three hours of car access free: additional hours cost $10 each. Eight Chevrolet Trax crossovers and two larger Equinox SUVs take Ritz Plaza drivers where they need to go.
“Having a car in the city didn’t seem realistic, but ‘Let’s Drive NYC’ changes that,” said Andy Chediak, a 32-year-old Stonehenge resident, in a project press release.
Along with car access, Let’s Drive NYC participants also get some other services related to GM’s OnStar telematics system. One is called “remote diagnostic status” – drivers simply press an OnStar button, and they get up-to-date information about the vehicle’s condition, including things like tire pressure, oil life, and engine health. GM says this “ensures targeted and prompt vehicle maintenance” – it’s not hard to see how the feature would help in a wide range of situations, preventing or helping out with some of the worst problems drivers encounter, like a dry engine or a low or flat tire.
Program participants also get access to 200 all-valet garages around the city, to make sure they get a warm welcome when they arrive at their destination.
“This feature is part of each ‘Let’s Drive NYC’ reservation, and makes trips and running errands in Manhattan more convenient,” says Peter Kosak, executive director of GM Urban Mobility Solutions.
Let’s Drive NYC is not GM’s first such program: The company has partnered with Shanghai Jiao Tong University to provide a sharing app for the school’s fleet, and a CarUnity pilot program in Germany helps Opel drivers with peer-to-peer functionality. GM estimates 7,500 users are participating.
“We’ve been working on a number of urban mobility solutions for some time,” Kosak noted. “A number of factors inspired us and our programs, including global trends such as rapid urban development, shifting ownership models by millennials and other demographics, and the ability to monetize new ownership models.”
As for Let’s Drive NYC, there are changes afoot. GM says new expansion details are coming in the first quarter of 2016, so keep an eye out for more new car-sharing options in America’s busy urban areas.