TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- Even as it sells millions of new vehicles a year, General Motors also likes the idea of consumers sharing them.
“The whole idea of owning a car, parking it for $1,000 a month and letting it sit there 90 percent of the time is just ludicrous,” said Julia Steyn, GM’s vice president of urban mobility programs.
“We see that the demand for ride sharing and car sharing is growing 95 percent in the next two years,” she told an audience at a session on disruptive strategies at the CAR Management Briefing Seminars here on Wednesday.
Steyn said customers of Maven, GM’s personal mobility brand, have driven more than 5 million miles since the brand launched Jan. 28.
Maven started in January in areas including New York; Ann Arbor. Mich.; and Chicago. Boston and Washington are now online. The reception has been all that GM could have hoped for, Steyn said.
“We started in Chicago with 100 cars. Three days later we had a wait list of over 2,000 people wanting rides. The wait list is growing exponentially.”
GM doesn’t believe Maven poses a threat to its core business of selling cars and trucks, she said.
“At GM we view Maven as a complementary business” focused on urban areas where car ownership can be a hassle, she said. GM sales remain strong in mid-America, where customers still want to own vehicles such as the pickups and SUVs at the heart of the company’s lineup.
Customers start by downloading the Maven app to their mobile devices. The app tells customers where vehicles are available. The app allows customers to locate a vehicle, unlock the door or even remotely start the car. All vehicles have GM’s OnStar communications system and satellite radio.
There are already 3,500 GM vehicles in the Maven fleet including Chevrolet Tahoes, which customers use for trips to places like Costco and Ikea, she said.
Steyn, a former investment banker, built her Maven team with a mix of employees with experience at companies including Google, Starbucks and ZipCar.