GM announced on Jan 21st, 2016 the creation of a new car-sharing service, in a attempt to stay ahead in a constantly changing automotive industry. The service is called Maven and is similar to existing platforms like Zipcar and Car2Go. Initially made available only to the residents of Ann Arbor, Michigan, the car-sharing program will grant its customers access to vehicles available in 21 parking spots across the city.
GM’s president Dan Ammann, states, as reported by GM’s Corporate Newsroom, that “General Motors is at the forefront of redefining the future of personal mobility. With the launch of our car-sharing service through Maven, the strategic alliance with ride-sharing company Lyft, and building on our decades of leadership in vehicle connectivity through OnStar, we are uniquely positioned to provide the high level of personalized mobility services our customers expect today and in the future.”
Maven can be seen as a response to a radical change in American attitudes towards cars and car ownership. The main target are young Americans, who are now reportedly less likely than ever to view car ownership as the coming-of-age rite. In this sense, a study conducted by the University of Michigan discovered a significant drop in the number of licensed drivers 25 years old and younger. Instead, young professionals are relying on public transportation and on-demand driving services like Uber, which are considered cheaper and spare them the burden of owning and maintaining a purchased car.
The new car sharing service comes with its own smartphone app, through drivers will be able to find and unlock Maven cars. The cars themselves will feature wireless hotspots and the latest generation smartphone-syncing software from Apple and Google. What’s more, Ann Arbor Maven users will have the opportunity to directly contact Maven leadership and core team members via WhatsApp to share their experiences, ideas and feedback with the team as they help shape the Maven service.
Though Maven is facing tough competition, General Motors’ Vice President of Urban Mobility Julia Steyn is, according to Time, optimistic about its odds and confident in the cars’ advanced technology, which she considers to be its standout feature. Against rival services like Zipcar, Maven will have the advantage of having expectedly lower costs, given its ties to an automaker.
The same ties will also help expose GM’s vehicles to younger consumers, which could potentially lead to their decision to purchase and own a General Motors car later in life. “While there is some debate over how important ride-sharing services will be in the future, there is no doubt that the top global car companies want to have exposure in the space and gain learnings from early adopters”, says Jack R. Nerad, Executive Editorial Director and Analyst at Kelley Blue Book.