General Motors unites car-sharing services


Associated Press

DETROIT

The final destination is a mystery, but General Motors is taking another step on its fast-moving journey into new ways of getting around.

The company announced Thursday that it’s formed a brand called “Maven” that will run its car-sharing ventures, including a new one that will begin competing with ZipCar next month in Ann Arbor, Mich., and spread to other metro areas later this year.

GM executives said they expect their main business model of selling cars to people will continue to be large, but they also see big changes coming with ride- and car-sharing.

“We see significant opportunity as that change occurs,” GM President Dan Ammann said. “We very much as a company want to make sure we’re at the forefront of that.”

The unveiling of Maven comes on the heels of two new mobility deals announced by GM this year: a $500 million investment in ride-hailing company Lyft and the purchasing of the remnants of defunct ride-hailing company Sidecar.

Maven already has 21 parking spaces and new GM vehicles assigned to the area around the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor, including spots in dormitory lots. It’s also expanding a residential car-sharing project to more apartment buildings in New York City and to Chicago.

The Ann Arbor project will let people rent cars for as little as $6 per hour through a smart-phone app that connects to the cars’ OnStar system. Customers will be able to sign up for the cars and remotely unlock them through the app.

The service is recruiting customers and is in testing now, but should be open to the public in February, said Julia Steyn, GM vice president of urban mobility.

As recently as last year, GM executives seemed nonplussed by trends toward a transportation-sharing economy, but Ammann said plans were in the works long ago with the 200-mile Chevrolet Bolt electric car and deals in the works.

The company doesn’t expect a huge boost in revenue initially, but with 5 million to 6 million people worldwide already sharing vehicles, “we see it as a real commercial opportunity,” Ammann said.

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