GM launches “Maven”
Steve’s breakdown: Maven is one of GM’s answers to Uber / Zipcar. No word on who’s doing the advertising so get in there now. GM President Dan Ammann seems to be the contact and he’s at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DETROIT, MI: Last week, General Motors launched a new “personal mobility brand” called Maven, through which the company will try to infiltrate the many ride-on-demand companies that have sprung forth from Silicon Valley. The initial business plan involves a car-sharing service, also called Maven, which will allow people to rent GM vehicles à la Zipcar or City CarShare.
The announcement came shortly after GM announced a $500 million investment in Lyft, which it told the public would be used to develop autonomous vehicles as well as to solidify a partnership between the two companies (Lyft will now also allow its drivers to rent GM vehicles if they prefer not to use their own). Then, just two days ago, GM unexpectedly purchased Sidecar, an Uber rival that shut down in December amid intense competition.
“GM is at the forefront of redefining the future of personal mobility,” GM President Dan Ammann said in a statement. Amman went on to say that the automaker’s strategic relationship with Lyft and its decades of work developing GM’s OnStar system would allow Maven “to provide the high level of personalized mobility services our customers expect today and in the future.”
Maven will initially launch in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where 21 GM vehicles will be available for on-demand renting. Depending on phone compatibility, Maven customers will be able to book a car and unlock the car with their smartphone when they arrive. The companion smartphone app will be able to start, heat, and cool the car as well. “Customers can bring their digital lives into the vehicle through Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, OnStar, SiriusXM radio and 4GLTE wireless,” GM wrote in a press release. “Each vehicle will provide an ownership-like experience with the convenience of car-sharing.”
GM says it will expand to other major cities in the US, specifically to Chicago and New York. (GM already had a car-sharing program in New York called Let’s Drive NYC, but it will now be rebranded as Maven.)
The company seems to be aggressively targeting all the hottest areas for investment in technology and transportation—ride-sharing, autonomous taxis, car-sharing. Of course, the challenge will be that GM is not really “at the forefront” of new trends in personal mobility—instead it will have to compete vigorously with other incumbents in car-sharing as well as traditional rental car companies, and if it expands to other areas of personal mobility, it will still have to compete with the Ubers and the self-driving car companies of the world. Still, it has done a good job of acquiring the knowledge that it will need to compete—GM says it has been working with “professionals from Google, Zipcar, and Sidecar” to make its vision work.