What GM is Learning from its Maven Carsharing Service

General Motors’ new carsharing service Maven is stepping forward with vehicles being rented in Ann Arbor, Mich., and Chicago.

Ann Arbor has more than 1,300 approved users and GM quietly launched a few weeks ago in Chicago. Maven will be rolled out to additional major U.S. metro areas this year as GM reaches out to consumers who may not own a car.

In Ann Arbor, about 20-30 percent of those who’ve downloaded the Maven smartphone app are now considered active users. That means they’ve used Maven to rent a vehicle more than once, according to GM. The audience and end use has been diverse, with customers going beyond millennials and college students using Maven cars to go to work, take weekend trips, or shop at retail stores like IKEA.

Shannon Serenko, 32, has become a regular Maven customer, and doesn’t own a car. Maven rents vehicles in her building’s parking garage, which she’s used about a half dozen times including two overnight trips. Maven has been cost effective for her, taking away expenses such as car insurance and parking.

Serenko also has used a key carsharing competitor, Zipcar. She liked Maven’s low prices and has found the mobile app to reserve a car easy to use. Her favorite Maven fleet vehicle is a Chevrolet Volt, which she has nicknamed Charlie. Serenko likes to plug in her phone and listen to Pandora while she’s driving.

“The Volt is cheapest car you can rent at six bucks an hour, and it’s a sweet car,” she said.

SEE ALSO: GM Launches ‘Maven’ Car-Sharing Service

Maven started with 13 vehicles in Ann Arbor, which has grown to 30 vehicles available including the Chevrolet Spark, Malibu, Volt, and Tahoe. It has several locations in Ann Arbor, including near the University of Michigan campus and downtown. Users return cars to the same parking spot where they picked them up.

Insurance and gasoline up to 180 miles a day are included in the rental. It also comes with the ability to sync phones for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; OnStar services, SiriusXM, and 4G LTE wireless service. If gasoline falls below a quarter of a tank while in use, customers are asked to use their credit card to refuel.

Prices in Ann Arbor range from $6 an hour for the Spark and Volt, to $12 an hour for the Tahoe; and $42 per day for the Spark and Volt, to $84 a day for the Tahoe. Prices are slightly higher in Chicago where 26 vehicles are available so far.

GM is working on rolling out Maven+, a carsharing program for residential communities. Approved participants in Maven+ will have 24/7 access to a variety of vehicles, conveniently parked in the related residential community parking garages, GM says.

The automaker sees Maven as critical for its mobility strategy as it competes with Uber, Lyft, and carsharing companies like Zipcar and Daimler’s Car2Go. Earlier this year, GM bought a 9 percent stake in ride-hailing company Lyft Inc. for $500 million. The two companies are working to develop a fleet of self-driving Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles.

GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra last week said she believes GM can “get rid of a lot of customer pain points with sharing.” Speaking last week at a women’s technology conference in Detroit, Barra said carsharing can help eliminate the headaches of car ownership in cities where congestion and parking costs are challenging.

“If you can eliminate pain points and how they get from Point A to Point B, you’re going to be really serving the customer,” Barra said. “And that’s why General Motors is working so hard, that however people get from Point A to Point B, that we’re going to be a part of it and really lead it all the way to autonomous (driving).”

The Detroit News