Long gone are the days when you could only hail a taxi or opt for public transport to get around, short of owning a vehicle. These days there’s Uber, Lyft, and Curb, and in early 2016 a new option entered the marketplace called Maven. Unlike other services, Maven has something backing it that provides instant stability, credibility, and expertise: GM. Here’s a closer look at what this service is about and how it’s holding up against the competition.
When Maven launched in January 2016 many thought it was just a different interpretation of ZipCar, and some hailed it as an unnecessary foray into the car sharing market by the auto giant. Maven started out in just one city, Ann Arbor, Michigan. What’s unique about GM’s new venture is that it really isn’t trying to compete with the other car sharing companies out there. Instead, it’s working with some of them and a host of tech companies to meet a different goal: building a network of reliable, efficient driverless cars to start an entirely new market.
Those who didn’t understand why GM would go into the car sharing business can get a clearer picture of what’s really going on by looking at their long term hopes. A self driving network that features the brand’s cars would pull in plenty of revenue to make the whole setup worth it.
How Maven Works
The first step to using Maven — which is commonly referred to simply as Maven — is much like any other car sharing service. Users have to download the company’s app and sign up to become a member. Currently it’s free to join the service, and when you’re a member you don’t have to pay for the included insurance. Another key difference is that instead of being picked up by a peer driver, users drive the cars themselves. Vehicles are stationed around the cities where the service operates, and users simply reserve one in the app.
The selection of cars is, not surprisingly, from the GM fleet. That means you can choose from a range of compacts, sedans, and SUVs such as the Chevy Spark, Cadillac ATS, Buick Regal, Cadillac Escalade, and GMC Yukon. Don’t want to drive a GM car? Then you’re out of luck, because the company would be insane to showcase another auto manufacturer’s vehicles within its own car sharing service.
Having a smartphone is critical to using the service, because its how you do everything from remotely start the vehicles to unlock the cars and report gas levels. Speaking of gas, Maven drivers don’t have to add any fuel or pay fuel surcharges as long as the tank is returned at least one-quarter full and they stay within their reserved mileage. The rates are pretty reasonable, and you can reserve a car through Maven for as little as $7 an hour and $8 an hour in most markets.
Once each trip is over, users drop their cars back off where they got them from, hit the end button on the service’s app, and that’s it. If you need to extend the time you have a vehicle, you can see if it’s possible to do so through the app as well.
This service definitely has some key benefits and it is rather seamless, even though it’s not the first of its kind to hit the market. Still, having GM’s backing is what makes it different from other services that have a fly by night fear attached to them. Maven won’t just up and disappear from any city overnight like some car sharing services have, and GM has big plans for it in the future.
While Maven was originally available solely in Ann Arbor, within four months of the service’s launch it had already spread to Boston, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and select areas of Manhattan. In some of these markets, users are able to pay a premium to have their car delivered straight to their door, making the case for the superior convenience of Maven more convincing.
Chicago alone started out with 15 Maven pick-up locations, and by the end of 2016 it will have come to Baltimore as well. According to the service’s customers the Chevy Volt is the most popular car being rented out, with the Spark, Tahoe, and Malibu also being in high demand. To date, those who have used Maven have logged millions of miles, meaning the service is off to a respectable start and it’s gaining recognition in the industry and among the car and ride sharing public.
GM says that Maven is all about providing next generation level freedom — in other words, its goal is to make sure that people who want to use a car and have the money to do so will have access to one. Just as more people, particularly millennials, are freeing themselves from being tethered to locations, homes, and workplaces for any length of time, this service will allow people the ability to drive how, when, and where they want without any commitment. Maven doesn’t even charge annual membership fees, which isn’t the case for other car sharing companies.
And while those other services are competing with each other, GM’s Maven is working with people who drive for those services by renting out their cars to them. It sounds a bit complicated, but through the Maven Express Drive service Lyft drivers can rent out cars in select cities for a weekly rate. For instance, under the program a Chevy Equinox can be rented by verified Lyft drivers for $99 a week. Apparently not only is GM targeting a driverless fleet in the future, they’re taking advantage of the potential to earn from existing ride share services before they become obsolete.