What it is: Maven is a car sharing app run by General Motors.
In congested cities like New York and San Francisco, it makes little sense to own a car because you’ll need to pay for parking along with the inconvenience of finding a place to park it whenever you arrive at a destination. Mass transit is never the solution because it’s never as convenient as having your own car. That’s why car sharing services are popping up and one of them is called Maven.
The company behind Maven is none other than General Motors. That’s because General Motors can already see the future. When cars get too expensive to own, GM won’t be able to sell them to individuals. However, car sharing will become popular and convenient, which opens up a new source of revenue for car makers like GM. People will still need cars but they may no longer need to own their own.
Car sharing services act like rental services except they charge by the hour. For doing short, simple tasks like driving to the grocery store, renting by the hour can be economical. For people who need a car every day such as contractors who drive to different locations, then owning a car will likely be more practical and economical.
What makes Maven and other car sharing services unique is that unlike traditional rental car agencies, car sharing services simply park a car in a public location such as a parking garage. When you need a car, you reserve it through an app on a smartphone and then at your designated time, you hop into the car and drive it away. When you return the car, the app records the total amount of time you had the car and bills you accordingly. Beyond having someone fill the car up with gas (or make sure its electric battery is fully charged) along with other routine maintenance such as making sure the brakes work and the tires are properly inflated, the car sharing service requires little interaction with human workers. That saves the car sharing service money.
Car makers like General Motors can already see the future and it’s not like the past where you either relied on mass transit (only feasible for places like New York) or owned your own car. Tomorrow, people will still rely on mass transit or owning a car, but many others will simply opt for car sharing services like Maven or ride sharing services like Uber. The bottom line is that owning a car is becoming increasingly inconvenient and expensive. The future is simply providing people transportation economically and conveniently whether that means mass transit, car sharing, ride sharing, or car ownership.
Toss in the future of electric cars and self-driving cars and the entire business model of selling cars is doomed. General Motors can already see the future and other car makers are likely to notice this trend too. Sales of cars to individuals can only keep dropping steadily over the years so General Motors wants to prepare with its Maven car sharing service. The only question is whether General Motors can survive the transition from near total reliance on car ownership to a future mix where car sharing becomes as popular as car ownership. History suggests otherwise (Radio Shack, Blockbuster video, Borders Books, Kodak, Montgomery Ward, the Yellow Pages, etc.).
So good luck to General Motors for at least trying. For the rest of us, look forward to a world where car ownership will no longer be a requirement or necessity. That will free up more money to spend on yourself instead of your car.