GM is expanding its Maven car-sharing service, a ZipCar/Uber/Lyft alternative, into Los Angeles. Maven, which launched earlier this year with rentals starting at $6 an hour, allows drivers pick up vehicles from pickup/dropoff points and then return them when they are done.
At GM’s launch event on Thursday, GM vice president of Urban Mobility and Maven Julia Steyn said that "Los Angeles is a natural fit for Maven because of the city’s incredible appetite for cars. We are excited to offer an elevated car-sharing experience with seamless connectivity in a fleet of luxury sedans, electric vehicles, and SUVs."
For its Los Angeles launch, which will include 60 initial vehicles for ride-sharing, pickup/dropoff points will be concentrated in downtown Los Angeles—the most pedestrian-friendly and arguably least auto-oriented area in the famously car-loving city. According to GM, Maven stations will initially be located in downtown Los Angeles, the South Park neighborhood adjacent to Staples Center, Little Tokyo, and around the University of Southern California.
GM gets one major benefit from leasing vehicles at $6 or $8 an hour—they expose customers to the automaker’s newest (and option-filled) models. Customers have the choice of Chevrolet Cruze, Malibu, Tahoe, and Volt, GMC Acadia and Yukon, and luxury Cadillacs. All the cars include amenities like OnStar, SiriusXM radio, and unlimited 4G data—with insurance and fuel included as well. For GM, in essence, it’s a way to get customers to test-drive their cars while also generating income for the automaker. Lyft drivers can also use Maven.
According to GM, more than 11,000 Maven members and Lyft drivers have made more than 12,000 reservations for the service and driven more than 23 million miles. Maven’s Los Angeles launch follows a recent expansion into San Francisco, and the service also operates in Ann Arbor, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, New York, and Washington, D.C.
Lyft allegedly turned down an acquisition offer from GM earlier this year, and the two companies continue to have close ties and collaborate on a variety of projects. For automakers, car-sharing and ride-sharing continue to be big business.