The ride-sharing industry has exploded in the past decade, making transportation more convenient and accessible all over the world. And as car ownership rates have gone down, people rely more on ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft to commute, with other ride-sharing apps and car subscriptions services cropping up. Now General Motors (GM) is piloting a new peer-to-peer car service called Maven car-sharing. It has a business model similar to Airbnb, with car owners in cities such as Boston, Orlando, Washington, DC, Chicago, Detroit and others renting out their vehicles. This is significant progress since our last reporting on the topic earlier in the year.
Putting Maven Car-Sharing to Work
The average American car owner spends no more than one hour a day driving, essentially paying for expensive cars that go unused for long periods of time. But with GM’s Peer Cars service and mobility app Maven car-sharing, car owners can rent out their GM vehicles—Chevys, Buicks, and Cadillacs—to a network of app users.
People who own or lease a GM vehicle from 2015 or newer can list the vehicles for rent. Owners can make up to $500 or more per month, which makes up for the maintenance for their cars.
Julia Steyn, Vice President of Urban Mobility at GM, said there is a strong demand for car-sharing. She also said that there are car owners who are not always able to maximize their cars, which ultimately become wasted assets.
Maven aims to offset the vehicle investment by giving owners the opportunity to benefit from a quick ROI.
How Maven Car-Sharing Works
On the Maven app, Peer Cars are available to its 150,000 members. A person can go on the app, select a vehicle based on a particular price point, go to the vehicle’s location, and unlock it using the app. The renter and the owner don’t meet to transact and exchange keys, especially since the cars in the Maven network do not require keys.
A car owner who wants to list a vehicle for rent will need to fill an application to qualify. Once it is qualified, the owner takes it into GM to have the accessories installed. These accessories include one that allows for keyless and smartphone access. GM provides an insurance of up to $1 million for all participating vehicles.
Once everything is set up, it’s as easy as booking an Uber. It is a great alternative for people who prefer to drive themselves. It is also a reliable option for those who need cars for a short period but without the tedious commitment of a rental car. Members can rent vehicles by the hour, day, or even per month.
Building on the Foundation of Maven Carsharing
Maven is not the first app to offer a peer-to-peer model. Turo, formerly RelayRides from San Francisco, pioneered this service in 2010. It now has about four million customers who can access 170,000 cars across the US. An independently-owned company, Turo offers a wide range of vehicles for short-term and long-term rentals, ranging from $10-$250 a day. Compared to conventional rent-a-car services like Hertz or Avis, Turo boasts an average 30% discount on their cars.
Turo, in its early years, worked with General Motors’ subsidiary OnStar. Now that the partnership has concluded, OnStar’s in-vehicle safety and security services are critical in Maven operations. All GM vehicles released in recent years are equipped with 4G Wi-Fi and OnStar security systems. When a customer is ready to use the vehicle, OnStar unlocks it for the customer through the smartphone.
Maven’s Foreseeable Future
While it may seem like it is a competing service within the Maven app, GM says it’s actually an opportunity to address a strong demand they are seeing. People want cars for rent without the friction of traditional rental service. And with quick turnaround times with ride-sharing services, and even car subscription services, they know they have to keep up in terms of accessibility. Maven aims to analyze the beta testing data culled by locals and customers to better understand the needs of the stakeholders. They want to know how they can continue engagement between both owners and renters.
Maven carsharing is also planning to roll out autonomous versions of GM’s Chevrolet Bolt EV by 2019. Maven car-sharing still has much to polish. But judging from the clamor for varied transportation alternatives, more cities may have Maven vehicles on the road within the next two years.