General Motors Company (GM) announced Thursday it has united its car-sharing business under one brand name — Maven. It would compete with Zipcar, Car2Go and other services that cater to those who don’t own cars but rent them from time to time.
The company announced that a new car-sharing venture under Maven will compete with Zipcar in Ann Arbor, Michigan, starting next month. Maven will initially focus on serving the faculty and students at University of Michigan, and will be available at 21 parking spots across the city, according to a statement from GM Thursday. New GM vehicles will also be reportedly assigned to the area near the university campus, including dormitory lots.
Customers can rent cars for as little as $6 an hour or $42 a day, and can search and reserve cars based on location or car type, CNBC reported. Cars can be unlocked using smartphones and returned at any one of the 21 parking spots around Ann Arbor after use. Payments for the rental will be made using a smartphone app.
The Detroit company announced two mobility deals earlier this month — it invested $500 million in ride-hailing company Lyft and bought the technology and most assets of defunct ride-hailing company Sidecar.
“With the launch of our car-sharing service through Maven, the strategic alliance with ride-sharing company Lyft, and building on our decades of leadership in vehicle connectivity through OnStar, we are uniquely positioned to provide the high level of personalized mobility services our customers expect today and in the future,” GM President Dan Ammann said in the statement.
The company also announced it will launch more city-based programs in major U.S. cities later this year. It will launch a car-sharing service for an apartment building in Chicago and expand its existing residential program in New York in the first quarter of this year, the company said. Both services are expected to serve over 5,000 residents, according to GM’s statement.
“Maven provides on-demand access, choice and ease of use. The right vehicle and right mobility service for the right trip at the right time,” Julia Steyn, GM vice president for Urban Mobility Programs, said in the statement, adding: “With more than 25 million customers around the world projected to use some form of shared mobility by 2020, Maven is a key element of our strategy to changing ownership models in the automotive industry.”
Steyn also said the service is currently hiring customers and is in testing, but will be made available to the public in February, reported AP. The Maven team had about 40 people at present and Steyn said, according to the Wall Street Journal, that some employees from Sidecar would also join the team soon.
Maven’s foray into the hourly car-rental market maybe challenging initially, the Journal reported, citing the example of Zipcar, which found it tough to maintain its early customer growth and was sold to Avis Budget Group Inc. in 2013 at a price lower than its IPO price.
Zipcar executives estimated the car-sharing market in North America, Europe and Asia could be worth $10 billion in the coming years, according to the Journal.