Does it seem like automakers no longer want to sell you a car? Between Daimler car-sharing programs, the suite of Ford mobility initiatives, and General Motors’s $500 million investment in Lyft, the industry has conceded that owning a vehicle is not in the cards for many young people around the world. Taking its advanced mobility program one step further, GM has launched Maven, the platform under which the automaker’s car-sharing plans will take shape.
Maven, which will be its own brand and not include the ride-sharing unit, begins with a service allowing Ann Arbor residents to hire a car on-demand using a smartphone app that opens the vehicle for use. Gas and insurance are included in the cost of the rental, which will be billed by the hour and should start below $10 per trip. GM is using the University of Michigan as the the place Maven begins to tap into a centralized community of students and faculty open to the usefulness of the sharing economy.
According to the automaker, the car-sharing service will start with 21 parking spaces in Ann Arbor and expand into other U.S. cities later in 2016. Since announcing a car-share program at an apartment building in New York City and private consumer-to-consumer vehicle swapping overseas, Maven is GM’s all-in entry to the growing number of mobility programs coming from car companies.
At CES 2016, mobility was the buzzword of an electronics showcase where GM introduced the Chevy Bolt EV and Ford unveiled more programs designed to improve the way people use vehicles in their lives. Yet a major move had already come when the General joined forces with a top ride-share service to get in on the exploding for-hire transportation business.
Global trends reports say future mobility demands creative solutions to transportation. An increasingly urban population risks being ensnarled in traffic if vehicles continue to flood congested city streets. Without a place to park or system to commute more efficiently, millennials are fine with hopping in an Uber for short trips and grabbing a ZipCar when heading out of town. Uber and Lyft have almost made car ownership optional in Los Angeles, something which was once unthinkable for an upwardly mobile professional.
If that’s where young consumers are headed in terms of vehicle ownership, then automakers want to be the ones providing the transportation services and getting a piece of every trip. GM is taking the route from several angles, which should be a precursor of things to come for other industry players. There’s the “if can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” approach in the Lyft partnership and “we can beat you” model in the challenge to ZipCar and Car2Go with Maven.
At the Detroit Auto Show, Ford CEO Mark Fields noted that transportation services are the biggest area of potential growth for automakers following a year of sales the industry may never top. From here on out, the race will be won by the company delivering better mobility with the most advanced technology. With FordPass and now Maven from GM, America’s biggest automakers have started their engines.