(Corrects headline and first two paragraphs to clarify that
Maven is not replacing CarUnity in Germany)
By Bernie Woodall
DETROIT Jan 21 General Motors Co said on
Thursday that it was starting a car-sharing service in the
United States as it joins at least two other automakers testing
the market for consumers who want to borrow vehicles rather than
The service, called Maven, will start with a small fleet
offered to the general public in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Also, the Maven brand will incorporate some existing
car-sharing programs. They include a service in Germany that
will keep the CarUnity name and operate as it has since
Maven, a Yiddish word for expert, will expand to other
cities this year, but GM would not say how quickly or by how
much. Julia Steyn, head of GM's urban mobility programs, said
that depends on consumer.
GM President Dan Ammann said Maven is not ride-sharing which
is offered by Lyft Inc, in which GM invested $500 million.
In ride-sharing, customers summon cars and someone drives
them. In car-sharing, customers use a smart phone app or other
device to access cars and drive themselves.
Ammann would not reveal how much the company is investing or
how many GM cars will be in the Maven fleet to start or down the
Use of a small car starts at as little as $6 per hour or $12
per hour for a large car, according to website MavenDrive.com.
GM's Maven, like the efforts by rival automakers, aims to
convince skeptical investors that auto industry incumbents can
move into new markets such as car sharing instead of waiting for
upstarts to undermine their franchises.
Carmakers mobility service ventures will have to compete
with well-capitalized challengers such as Uber Technologies Inc
, the ride-hailing company, or ventures that might be
launched by Silicon Valley technology powers Apple Inc
or Alphabet Inc.
Ammann said worldwide between 5 million and 6 million people
use ride sharing and car sharing, a figure he expects to expand
four- or five-fold by the end of the decade.
Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz luxury brand has
grouped ride sharing and ride hailing ventures under the
"Mercedesme" brand, which like GM's Maven aggregates a
smartphone app, access to short- and longer-term rentals as well
as access to taxis and mass transit. Ford Motor Co last
week launched the FordPass brand as an umbrella for mobility
(Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)