General Motors (GM) may have launched its Maven car-sharing service in January, but it has rapidly expanded to more than 10 markets, with its newest one being San Francisco. Now those interested in short-term car rentals with a technological system suited to millennials can easily take a GM vehicle out for a spin with no hassle. The service currently has pick-up and drop-off locations in the Financial District, Embarcadero, South of Market (SOMA), and the Mission District.
Prior to this week, the Maven service had only been available in Ann Arbor, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York City, and Washington, D.C. To date, nearly 15 million miles have been logged by drivers using it.
The goal of this program is to provide drivers with the flexibility of having a car available at any time. Maven competes against the likes of Zipcar, Getaround, Carma, and even incumbent car rental services such as Enterprise, Hertz, Avis, and Budget. However, the draw is that Maven’s vehicles are from GM and they’re newer models, meaning that drivers can get Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, OnStar, SiriusXM, and 4G LTE wireless connectivity so there’s no disruption to their daily lives.
This is perhaps why the service launched in San Francisco, a hotbed of technology aficionados. People in the city are used to getting around by public transit or ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft (which GM has invested in), but there are still occasions that call for renting a car. “San Francisco is a progressive city that embraces innovation, technology, and alternative modes of transportation,” GM said in a statement. “The on-demand lifestyle is part of the city’s fabric, and residents and visitors alike now have access to the technology, seamless member experience, and portfolio of fully-equipped vehicles from General Motors brands that sets Maven apart from the competition.”
Those interested in using Maven have to register before they can use the app. Once they’ve finished signing up, they can reserve one of the 60 vehicles available in 30 sites around San Francisco with pricing that starts at $8 per hour, including insurance and fuel. Drivers simply approach the vehicle and unlock it using their smartphone. When the ride is over, they simply hit “end” within the app. Right now the return location must be the same as the pick-up.
What’s notable about expanding into the City by the Bay is that it’s not exactly a sure thing for these type of services. BMW’s ReachNow program had launched in San Francisco, but departed last year amid concerns over parking regulations. Others like Car2Go have also encountered resistance cracking the market.
More than 10,500 people have signed up for Maven, with the average trip being 100 miles and more than 9 hours.
GM declined to share whether its car-sharing service has resulted in people making actual purchases, saying that it was too early to tell. However, it’s possible that some may rent a Chevrolet Volt, Malibu, Cruze, Tahoe, GMC Acadia, Yukon, or Cadillac just to see how well it handles without the pressure of having a salesperson sitting next to them.
Car-sharing isn’t a new market, but it’s an important opportunity for GM, a brand with a long history of adapting to the changing business landscape. Beyond seeking customers who want to own cars, the carmaker is investing in different use cases, such as ride-sharing (Lyft), autonomous vehicles (through its acquisition of Cruise), and now car-sharing (Maven). And it’s not stopping with the U.S. — GM has made an investment in Yi Wei Xing Technology, a car-sharing service based in China.