Ride sharing is when a car owner drives you around. Car sharing is when you share a vehicle with others around you -- be it your community, your school or what have you. General Motors is planting a stake in the latter with the unveiling of Maven, its new car-sharing enterprise.
Amid all the lofty talk about reinventing mobility and transforming the automotive landscape, the idea behind Maven is relatively straightforward. Using Maven's app, you look for an unused car that fits your needs -- small cars for simpler tasks like the grocery store, larger cars for more complicated ventures like a trip to Ikea for a bed frame. Once you secure a car in your area, your phone acts as the key, unlocking and starting the vehicle.
Whereas Zipcar uses a wide variety of vehicles, many of which lack the latest and greatest in-car tech, Maven should be a smoother experience because it will rely on new GM products alone. That means every Maven-branded vehicle will come with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, satellite radio and a 4G LTE Internet connection. The goal with all this high-tech kit is to make a car from Maven feel a bit more personal.
In terms of pricing, Maven's website points out that prices start around $6 per hour for its smallest vehicles, with larger cars naturally commanding a higher price, but it appears even the largest car available -- a Chevrolet Tahoe -- costs just $12 per hour. There are also daily rates available, in the event you need the car for a while. Insurance and fuel are included in the cost, although you'll need to pay your own way if you drain the tank mid-trip.
Maven is kick-starting its operation in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where it will provide 21 vehicles in parking spots across the city to students and faculty at the University of Michigan. It will expand to residential neighborhoods in Chicago and New York soon thereafter.
It's also working with the CarUnity program in Germany for what it calls a "peer-to-peer" approach to car sharing, which involves individuals renting out their personal cars for others to use.