GM may test a carsharing program this summer

Cornelia Mascio
Marzo 13, 2018

General Motors is staying tight-lipped about a new Bloomberg report that suggests the company's Maven car-sharing program will soon allow GM auto owners to rent out their vehicles to strangers for brief periods of time through the app.

This would be a variation on the Maven approach, which has focused thus far on on-demand short-term rentals of GM-owned vehicles, similar to how Zipcar or Enterprise CarShare works.

A company spokesperson said there was nothing to announce at this time about peer-to-peer rentals, but didn't entirely reject the possibility either, instead saying, "Maven is always looking for ways to remove barriers to sharing". The Maven platform would be utilised for the new service, the report said.

Start-ups Turo and Getaround are two bigger names in the space, although GM dwarfs both upstarts with its market value of nearly US$53 billion.

Up to this point, GM has owned those cars.

The firm raised US$92 million in a funding round in September a year ago led by Germany's Daimler AG and South Korea's SK Holdings Co, which valued Turo at about US$700 million.

Getaround raised US$45 million in April past year, with Toyota Motor Corp among the companies buying in.

Peer-to-peer businesses could make more sense than car-sharing services that require owning and maintaining vehicles, said Alexandre Marian, a director in the automotive and industrial practice at consultant AlixPartners.

"Carmakers are preparing for disruption, so they are experimenting with different models", Marian said by telephone.

Tesla has hinted at a future peer-to-peer sharing network, though the vision Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk laid out in July 2016 alludes to a service using fully self-driving cars. "This dramatically lowers the true cost of ownership to the point where nearly anyone could own a Tesla".

The peer-to-peer sharing model does have its challenges. Cruise has developed driverless versions of the electric Chevrolet Bolt, plus an app to use the cars as robotaxis in a ride-hailing fleet starting next year. But according to the latest Bloomberg story, GM vehicle owners will soon be able to rent their cars to other individuals through the same Maven app.

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